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Etymology [ of (French verb) 'abrier' ]

From Middle French, from Old French abrier (“to cover”),
itself mostly likely from Late Latin aprīcāre,
from Latin aprīcārī, present active infinitive of aprīcor (“warm in the sun”),
from aprīcus (“sunny”).
The form abrier may have been of southern French origin, possibly via Old Provençal abriar (cf. the dialectal French form avrier). Compare Occitan, Catalan, Spanish and Portuguese abrigar.

Etymology [ of (Latin adjective) 'apricus' ]

From Vulgar Latin *aperīcus, from aperiō (“to open”).

  1. Because the bolded are antonyms, is the semantic change antiphrasis?

  2. If so, what might've caused the antiphrasis? What underlies 'open' and 'cover'?

I can divine 1 possibility: People trying to avoid something warmed in the sun, may cover that something (e.g. themselves if they're sunbathing. They probably didn't use umbrellas back then.).

  • 1
    «ABRIER v. tr. est issu (xiiie s.) du latin apricare « réchauffer au soleil », de apricus « ensoleillé », rapproché de apertus « ouvert », mais sans rapport réel, et donc d’origine obscure» (Dictionnaire historique de la langue française 2017). – Alex B. Dec 20 '17 at 16:29
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According to this etymological dictionary of the cognate Spanish abrigar, the meaning of "to protect against the wind" was already attested in 4th century AD Latin.

ABRIGAR, del lat. APRĪCARE 'calentar con el calor del sol', I.a doc.: Berceo.

La ac. 'proteger contra el viento' ya se halla en en el latín de Paladio (S. IV d. C.: Cabrera). Cuervo, Dicc. I, 62-64; Cej. IV, § 73.

DERIV. Abrigo [Fn. Gonz.] (postverbal de abrigar); el adj. ant. abrigo 'abrigado', en Berceo y en Martín Pérez de Ayala (1566: Mod. Philol. XXIV, 358) es el lat. APRĪCUS 'soleado', posteriormente sustituído por 'abrigaño' [Nebr. Abrigaños «lugares guardados del viento», en el vocabulario de med. S. XV. RFE XXXV, 336]. Abrigadal 'abrigadero' ast. (V). Desabrigar [1455 (BHisp. LVIII, 85); Nebr.].

Wiktionary suggests this is via extending the meaning "sunny" to "that which wards off the cold".


Notably, in French (and most other Romance languages) there is a doublet of verbs with contrasting definitions, depending on whether the term came via aprīcāre or not:

  • Latin aperīre ("to uncover, open")

    • Spanish abrir ("to open")
    • Vulgar Latin *operīre
      • Old French ovrir ("to open")
        • French ouvrir ("to open")
      • Latin aprīcus
        • Latin aprīcārī ("warm in the sun")
          • Late Latin aprīcāre
            • French abrier ("to cover")
            • Spanish abrigar ("to cover")
  • Latin operīre ("to cover, shut")

    • Latin cooperīre ("to cover completely")
      • Spanish cubrir ("to cover")
      • Old French covrir
        • French couvrir ("to cover")

It is interesting that operīre ("to cover") seems to have influenced the form of the aperīre ("to open") descended verbs of many Gallo-Romance languages (see column 3 below); while the cognate abrigar/abrier (retaining a similar form to aperīre) has flipped in meaning to "to cover" (column 4):

+----------------+------------------+---------------+--------------+--------------------+
|                |   "To open"      |   "To open"   |  "To cover"  |   "To cover"       |
|   Language     | (via aperīre)    | (via aperīre, |(via aperīre, | (via aperīre,      |
|                |                  |     *operīre) |     aprīcāre)|     *operīre,      |
|                |                  |               |              |    cooperīre)      |
+----------------+------------------+---------------+--------------+--------------------+
| Fala           | abril            | -             | ?            | ?                  |
+----------------+------------------+---------------+--------------+--------------------+
| Old Portuguese | abrir            | -             | abrigar      | cobrir             |
+----------------+------------------+---------------+--------------+--------------------+
| Portuguese     | abrir            | -             | abrigar      | cobrir, acobertar  |
+----------------+------------------+---------------+--------------+--------------------+
| Galician       | abrir            | -             | abrigar      | cubrir             |
+----------------+------------------+---------------+--------------+--------------------+
| Asturian       | abrir            | -             | abrigar      | cubrir             |
+----------------+------------------+---------------+--------------+--------------------+
| Spanish        | abrir            | -             | abrigar      | cubrir             |
+----------------+------------------+---------------+--------------+--------------------+
| Aragonese      | -                | ubrir         | abrigar      | cubrir             |
+----------------+------------------+---------------+--------------+--------------------+
| Old Provençal  | -                | obrir         | ?            | cobrir             |
+----------------+------------------+---------------+--------------+--------------------+
| Catalan        | -                | obrir         | abrigar      | cobrir             |
+----------------+------------------+---------------+--------------+--------------------+
| Occitan        | -                | obrir, dobrir | abrigar      | cobrir, cubrir     |
+----------------+------------------+---------------+--------------+--------------------+
| Old French     | -                | ovrir, olvrir,| abrier       | covrir, cuvrir     |
|                |                  | ouvrir, uvrir |              |                    |
+----------------+------------------+---------------+--------------+--------------------+
| French         | -                | ouvrir        | abrier       | couvrir            |
+----------------+------------------+---------------+--------------+--------------------+
| Norman         | -                | ouvri (Jersey)| ?            | ?                  |
+----------------+------------------+---------------+--------------+--------------------+
|Franco-Provençal| -                | uvrir         | ?            | ?                  |
+----------------+------------------+---------------+--------------+--------------------+
| Italian        | aprire           | -             | ?            | coprire            |
+----------------+------------------+---------------+--------------+--------------------+
| Neapolitan     | arapì, arape     | -             | ?            | ?                  |
+----------------+------------------+---------------+--------------+--------------------+
| Venetian       | averzir, avèrzer,| -             | ?            | covrir, covèrzar,  |
|                | avèrxer, vèrzer, |               |              | coèrxar, coèrxer,  |
|                | vèrzar, verxar   |               |              | covèrxer, cuèrxer, |
|                |                  |               |              | cuèrzar            |
+----------------+------------------+---------------+--------------+--------------------+
| Sicilian       | apriri, iàpriri, | -             | ?            | ?                  |
|                | jàpriri, gràpiri |               |              |                    |
+----------------+------------------+---------------+--------------+--------------------+
| Sardinian      | abbèrrere,       | -             | ?            | cobèrrere, cobèrri,|
|                |abèrriri, apèrrere|               |              |cobèrriri, copèrrere|
+----------------+------------------+---------------+--------------+--------------------+
| Friulian       | avierzi, aviergi,| -             | ?            | cuvierzi, cuviergi |
|                | vierzi, viergi   |               |              |                    |
+----------------+------------------+---------------+--------------+--------------------+
| Romansch       | avrir, arver     | -             | ?            | cuvrir, cuvierer,  |
|                |                  |               |              | cuvreir            |
+----------------+------------------+---------------+--------------+--------------------+
| Dalmatian      | apiar, aprer     | -             | ?            | coprer             |
+----------------+------------------+---------------+--------------+--------------------+
| Aromanian      | apir, apiriri    | -             | ?            | acoapir, acupiriri |
+----------------+------------------+---------------+--------------+--------------------+
| Romanian       | ?                | -             | ?            | acoperi            |
+----------------+------------------+---------------+--------------+--------------------+
| Walloon        | drovi            | -             | ?            | ?                  |
+----------------+------------------+---------------+--------------+--------------------+

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