Reading the etymology of fiend propelled me to read Univ. Texas's page on the PIE etymon     pē(i)-, pī-     'to hurt, scold, shame', whose Semantic Fields are stated as:

to Harm, Injure, Damage; Shame (n).

Under this PIE etymon, I saw the Latin adverb paene listed; but per Wiktionary, it does not connote or denote any negativity or injure or shame. So why was paene assigned to this PIE etymon?

  • 3
    This does seem a strange one. I hope somebody knows and can answer, 'cause now I'm curious. – Joel Derfner Apr 12 '16 at 10:14
  • 1
    A possible clue is English hardly, which shows a semantic shift from "with difficulty" to "almost". "With difficulty" and "with pain" aren't far apart. – TKR Dec 4 '16 at 19:33
  • Possible duplicate of Why is "paeniteo" considered more correct than "poeniteo"? – C. M. Weimer Dec 4 '16 at 21:04
  • 1
    The etymology of paene is unknown and contested. de Vaan summarizes the suggestions on record (including the derivation from *piH-) and shows that they are all untenable. – fdb Dec 4 '16 at 23:39

Because this etymology means that paene would be related to paenitet (as, indeed, the Oxford Latin Dictionary indicates it is), I should think that the connection is something along these lines:

If one thing is 'almost' another thing, it falls short of that thing in some essential quality, the full possession of which would make it wholly that thing; therefore, it's 'damaged' or 'causes dissatisfaction' (one of the definitions of paenitet in OLD) vis-à-vis that thing.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.