Ovid's Fastī for June 1 relates a story about strīgēs, witches who could transform into owls and magically sap the life of infants. There seem to be two forms of this word, strīx, -gis and strīga, -ae.

But where do these forms come from? Ovid suggests a connection to strīdēre "to screech", but that would require the D to turn into a G, so it sounds like folk etymology to me.

1 Answer 1


For some reason, “strix” and “striga” have not found their way into de Vaan’s etymological dictionary. The older dictionary by Walde does connect “strix” with “strideo”, tracing them back to an IE *strei- “to screech”, with two different extensions: -g and -d.

  • When a word is missing in de Vaan it's often because he thinks it's a loanword (which his dictionary excludes, for some reason) -- maybe that's the case with strix.
    – TKR
    Commented Aug 23, 2018 at 18:17
  • @TKR Possible: Wiktionary connects it to a putative Greek *strinx but I can't find attestation of that anywhere.
    – Draconis
    Commented Aug 24, 2018 at 3:20
  • @Draconis. zeno.org/Pape-1880/A/%CF%83%CF%84%CF%81%CE%AF%CE%B3%CE%BE
    – fdb
    Commented Aug 24, 2018 at 8:33
  • Walde cites this as a (potential) cognate, not as the source of a borrowing.
    – fdb
    Commented Aug 24, 2018 at 8:35

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