Starting from a Bart Simpson prank call, I looked for "urinator" in Wiktionary, and suddenly found myself faced with the Latin meaning of the word, that is, ūrīnātor meaning "diver". And I was like no, I can't believe that. And things got even more unbelievable when I clicked the link to ūrīnōr, and found it means "to dive" and comes from ūrīna, urine. What? No seriously, how exactly did this kind of pretty drastic meaning change come to be? Is ūrīnōr really from ūrīna? Did ūrīna mean "urine"? Can we go further back in the etymology of ūrīnor / ūrīna? Did ūrīnor ever mean "to urinate"?

(Latine repetam pro iis, qui Anglicam linguam non optime comprehendunt)

De significatione ac etymologia verborum "ūrīna" et "ūrīnor": "in aquam insilire" a verbo "mingere" venit?

Incipiens a Bartolomæi Simpson ludo telephonico quodam, in Wiktionarium quæsivi "urinator" (verbum Anglicum), et subito inveni significationem Latinam huius verbi, id est, ūrīnātor, quod aliquem qui in aquam insilit significat (Anglice diver). Reactio mea fuit "Minime, hoc credere nequeo!". Et situatio etiam incredibilior facta est cum ligamen clickavi ad ūrīnor, et inveni id in aquam insilire (Anglice dive) significare, et ab ūrīna (liquidum quod mingentes expellimus) originem trahere. Quit? Serie, exacte quomodo potuit tam drasticum mutamentum significationis fieri? Verene ūrīnor ab ūrīna venit? Significatio verbi ūrīna quam supra scripsi verane est? Possumusne magis retro ire in etymologiam verborum ūrīnor et ūrīna? Verbumne ūrīnor umquam mingere significavit?

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    +1 for gorgeous Latin. – Joel Derfner Feb 28 '16 at 17:59
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    Thx @Joel. Being Italian helps a tiny bit, I guess :). – MickG Feb 28 '16 at 18:02
  • Btw I was lucky with Bart which is an abbreviation for Bartholomew hence Bartholomæus, but can you think of any sensible way to latinize Simpson? – MickG Feb 28 '16 at 19:43
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    de Vaan mentions two hypotheses: 1. The original meaning might have been "water" cf. urinari 'dive' 2. The original meaning might have been urine, because divers produce a lot of urine. To conclude, we don't know for sure if Latin urina and other IE words meaning water are cognates (originate from the same root). – Alex B. Mar 4 '16 at 0:47
  • Simpson = filius Symeonis – fdb Aug 26 '18 at 23:37

Urina is actually a euphemism, although how old is that euphemism is up for debate. The root of urina is a variant of the Proto-Indo-European we-r-, which Etymonline summarizes nicely:

*ur- variant of root *we-r- "water, liquid, milk" (cognates: Sanskrit var "water," Avestan var "rain," Lithuanian jures "sea," Old English wær, Old Norse ver "sea," Old Norse ur "drizzling rain")

So the original root had "wet" or "watery" connotations. urinor then would mean something akin to "to become wet", which is an apt description of diving.

Interestingly, the Greek οὐρέω (ouréō) and οὖρον (oũron) show the same euphemism, but lacks any meaning of "diving" in any of its forms.

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