[ Wiktionary for 'même' :] Etymology
[3.] From Middle French mesme, from Old French mesme, earlier meïsme,
[2.] from Vulgar Latin *metipsimus [= the same],
[1.] from Latin -met [emphatic suffix] + ipse [“himself”] + -issimus [superlative suffix].
Cognates include Spanish mismo, Portuguese mesmo and Italian medesimo.

I added the Syntatic Categories for 1 and the English meaning in 2, from the link in 2 above.
How did 2 semantically shift to 3?

  • 1
    Joonas's answer seems to me a good start, but I think the question of the same; too; just as much comes to mean contrary to expectations; going so and so far is deeper than that. I wonder if the semantic overlap is cross-linguistic? It may be that mepitsimus = "the same" is as far as one can go for Latin in particular, unless one can show that it had a similar development. Commented Aug 10, 2017 at 14:17

1 Answer 1


Using the example from Wiktionary:

Même les rois doivent mourir
= Even kings must die
= Kings must die, the same way as everyone else

Or perhaps even "Kings must die the same", but this is too close to the boundaries of my syntactical comfort zone in English for me to make strong claims.

These two English translations (the first one from Wiktionary, the second one mine) mean the same thing. It is just that in this particular case "even" means the same as "same", although their use is different syntactically. I don't see a significant semantic shift here.

Moreover, as an adjective même means "same". Although there is a syntactical difference in use between adjectives and adverbs, there appears to be little difference in semantics.

Perhaps I should also stress that the English "even" in this context is the adverb, not the adjective.

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