[Wiktionnary in French for 'pravus' (adj.) :] De l’indo-européen commun *pra[1] (« penché ») qui n’existe qu’en latin et dans les langues celtiques. Pokorny rattache à ce radical pratum (« prairie, pré »), selon une métaphore qui est sans doute la même que dans clivus (« colline, pente ») : par rapport à la plaine, facilement cultivable, les pentes des collines sont réservées aux pâturages.

Wiktionary's English entry is void on etymology; so I posted the French above. I will happily translate the above into English as soon as one comment requests so.

The link intended by the superscript appears to fail, but the University of Texas's IE lexicon does feature *pra, and asserts its 'Semantic Field: to Bend'.

But what underlying semantic notions conciliate and connect, those of the PIE root (ie: to bend) and pratum (ie: meadow) and clivus (ie: a slope, hill), to those of pravus?


1 Answer 1


Whether or not it is correct, the French etymology is clear enough? Flat land was used for farming; the slopes of a hill are less amenable to farming, so people used those as pastures instead (to feed herds). Hence "inclined [land]" came to mean "pasture". What is it you find incomprehensible about that theory?

  • Thanks, but how did 'pasture' evolve to mean the Latin adjective 'pravus' (which has nothing to do with pastures)? I would conjecture that 'inclined land' => 'land bad for farming' => 'defected land' => 'defects' in general?
    – user37
    Commented Feb 23, 2016 at 21:23
  • @LePressentiment: Can you be more precise about which exact step you don't understand? I don't understand your question.
    – Cerberus
    Commented Feb 23, 2016 at 22:16
  • @LePressentiment: But...according to that etymology, it's the other way around: pratum would be from pravus.
    – Cerberus
    Commented Feb 23, 2016 at 23:12
  • You are correct; sorry for my neglect. This step confuses me: *prapravus? How did 'inclined' shift semantically? Did you mean: 'inclined land' ⟹ 'land bad for farming' ⟹ 'defected land' ⟹ 'defects'?
    – user37
    Commented Feb 28, 2016 at 23:02

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