In the Spanish language site someone asked about the etymology of the word chichón (link in Spanish), meaning bump (typically in the head as a result of a hit). The most common theory is that it is just an augmentative for chicha, an informal version for flesh. But then I found this in a book from 1611:

Rosal, 1611

This text properly defines what a chichón is, but then it states that it comes from Latin citione, a word with the same meaning, derived from the verb cire.

I have not found the word citione in any Latin dictionaries. So in order to know the reliability of this book, I ask: did the word citione exist at any time in the history of the Latin language? If not, what were the words used in Latin for bump (as a blow in the head)?


My guess, for what it's worth, is that chichon originates from the verb cieo, cire,civi, citum, (which loses the e in compounds excio, accio etc.). The verb's general sense, like that of its compounds, is to agitate, stir up, cause, stimulate and so on.

It's not hard to imagine a noun citio being formed from the supine stem to mean a 'blow', 'incentive' etc. — or even the 'bump' suggested in the question.

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    Nice finding! It's worth underscoring what you already said implicitly, that 1) the infinitive matches that in the quoted passage and 2) citio would be a regular construction from that verb – Rafael Jan 31 at 12:07
  • @Rafael. "Would be" is not a good answer to "does it exist". – fdb Feb 2 at 21:34
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    @fdb Let's not tie ourselves up in knots over this, but I would say that Rafael's conditional is good form, introducing as it does a satisfying element of doubt in a place where where have no certain authority. – Tom Cotton Feb 3 at 7:31

My guess is that the Latin word is actually caesio, which means cutting, wounding, or killing and comes from caedere. This seems to be reasonably close to the meaning in Spanish.

In compounds the ae turns into i, as in occidere and occisio. This explains how one might end up with cisio. Perhaps it was by analogy to the prefixed forms, or perhaps the same weakening applied to the original verb at some later point.

In some dialects of medieval Latin -tio and -sio are pronounced the same, so cisio can turn into citio. And when you take the ablative, you end up with citione.

Perhaps the cited verb cire is a corruption of caedere. This would not be a surprising Romance development, but I have never seen such a verb in Latin.

  • The word occidere in fact reminds me of Italian uccidere 'to kill', and ucciso 'killed'. I understand that the development of citione here is just a theory but there are no proofs that such a word existed. Thanks for your answer! – Charlie Jan 31 at 11:25

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