I couldn't help but wonder, while reading this verse from the Lord's Prayer, whether ῥύομαι might be cognate with the English verb rescue.

καὶ μὴ εἰσενέγκῃς ἡμᾶς εἰς πειρασμόν,
ἀλλὰ ῥῦσαι ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ τοῦ πονηροῦ.

And lead us not into temptation,
But rescue us from evil.

Matthew 6:13

The entry on etymonline.com did not suggest anything of the sort. It claims that rescue derives from the Latin verb excutere but stops short of making any connections to Greek.

rescue (v.)
c. 1300, from stem of Old French rescorre "protect, keep safe; free, deliver" (Modern French recourre), from re-, intensive prefix (see re-), + escourre "to cast off, discharge," from Latin excutere "to shake off, drive away," from ex "out" (see ex-) + -cutere, combining form of quatere "to shake" (see quash). Related: Rescued; rescuing.

I thought there might be more to the story. Would anyone here happen to know whether ῥύομαι is cognate with rescue? If not, I would be equally interested in learning what PIE root or stem ῥύομαι descends from.


The words are unrelated: there's no way to connect ex-cutere with ῥύομαι. The Latin word is based on quatio "shake", which has a Greek cognate πάττω "sprinkle".

The etymology of ῥύομαι is a bit messy. It's part of a family of forms which include ἔρυμαι, ἐρύομαι, εἴρυτο and others (all with the same meaning). These seem to go back to a PIE root such as *ueru-, which also yields the English word wear and German wehren "defend". But there are some doubts about this because of the lack of evidence for digamma in Greek, and other etymologies have been suggested.

  • What do you mean, "there's no way". Suppose *k^w velarized, then lenited in some dialect to a fricative like /x/ and the became a sonorant trill. Compare German rütteln "rattle, shake", rutschen "shift, slide", both uncertain, Old dialect rutschicht (cf DWDS/rutschen; I don't know), Schicht "layer, shift", Erdrutsch "earth-auake"; Also cp way, wagon, wheel vs road, G Rad, vs wägen, erwägen, wagen etc (OK lets not go there), vs raten, Rat, E reckon, also straight, street, G gerade, Geratewohl, recht, E right, rect-. Q ~ R is promissing! – vectory Nov 25 '19 at 21:55
  • Further cp Ger spritzen, En squirt, Ger rotzen "to spit" ... perhaps Messer wetzen "to whet knife", idiomatic Säbelrasseln "to rattling of sabers" (to scare). You are effectively correct: It's impossible for a mere mortal like myself to list all the material in a comment, checking it beforehand, to find a new sound law, or at least an internal derivation that can connect parts of the words in question (viz: shaking is itter-ative :D). Well, also cp squeeze, G quetschen, quatschen, E to chat, L express, G sprechen, tratschen, Ratschlag … if only to see coincidence abounds. – vectory Nov 25 '19 at 22:28
  • @vectory As usual, your comments ignore the basic historical linguistics principle of the regularity of sound change. But I do agree that "coincidence abounds". – TKR Nov 25 '19 at 23:27
  • You are mistaken. You may interpret that the whole point of the exercise is to uphold that regular sound correspondance is not the only basic principle of the comparative method: semantic agreement is just as important in light of unknown dialects, loans, folk etymologies, wave models--you know what I mean. rattle is "sound imitative", which is no less ignorant. This rustles my jimmies. On the other hand, a PIE sense "shake" cannot explain "rescue", at all, and an analogy to other words in its apparently rather late conception has to be considered, too, if not AGr rosai (?) then G retten – vectory Nov 26 '19 at 6:09
  • @vectory By that reasoning we should accept any pair of semantically similar words as cognate, since without regular sound correspondences any sound can turn into any other sound. As for the semantic path from "shake" to "rescue", it is explained in the OP. – TKR Nov 26 '19 at 7:06

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