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For questions about etymology: the history of words in Latin or the change in meaning as the words are loaned into another language.

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How the Greek word “oikonomia” got meaning of “thrift”?

Some dictionaries seems to include the word "thrift" at the end of definition for oikonomia (good examples here and here): Greek oikonomia "household management, thrift. I would like to know the ...
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43 views

Why was 'verecundiam' adopted to signify Appeal to Authority?

Walton, Douglas. Informal Logic: A Pragmatic Approach (2 ed 2008). p. 210 Middle.   The phrase argumentum ad verecundiam literally means “the argument from modesty,” and it was John Locke who ...
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49 views

What does Geryon have to do with singing?

One of the Labors of Heracles involved a three-headed giant named Geryon (Γηρυών). I've never seen an explanation for this name, but at first glance it would seem to be connected to γηρύω "to sing" (...
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33 views

Are there well-assimilated Latin words from Semitic languages?

I've generally assumed that Latin words coming from Semitic are usually transformed by Greek: even Elissa is a Greek transcription of the original. But this answer indicates that the well-attested ...
5
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1answer
62 views

Latin etymology of the English word “pulchritude”

I working on a literary piece and trying to find the first known use in Latin of of "pulcher" (feminine pulchra, neuter pulchrum, comparative pulchrior, superlative pulcherrimus), e.g., "first known ...
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24 views

Where does titulus come from?

Is the word titulus a diminutive, or does the -ulus do something else? Do we know where it comes from? L&S mentions that the ti- is related to τίνω and τιμάω, but that does not help me much. I ...
8
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1answer
95 views

Does mentula (“penis”) derive from the same root as mens (“mind”), and if so why?

The Latin word mentula isn't properly defined in the Lewis & Short dictionary, but it does show up on Latin-Dictionary.net and Wiktionary. Both those dictionaries define mentula as "penis". But ...
4
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1answer
52 views

Where does quire come from?

Where does the verb quire come from? L&S is unsure of the etymology but compares it to a Sanskrit word. Do we know more about the etymology of the verb? Is composed of ire ("to go") and another (...
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3answers
315 views

Could (postclassical) cancer “lattice” be at all related to cancer “crab”?

Cancer "crab" and cancer "lattice" look related, but it could be a coincidence. They are not very close in meaning, but one could perhaps imagine a crab's collection of legs to be somewhat similar to ...
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3answers
262 views

Cur nullum genus adiectivo “vetus”?

Why doesn't the adjective vetus inflect for gender?* I checked the etymology and vetus appears to have been inherited from Proto-Indo-European by the usual route. So why is it irregular? * OK, ...
7
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1answer
63 views

What is the meaning and origin of the “se-” prefix?

There are a lot of Latin words that begin with se-. It adds the notion of being "apart" or "separated": secerno secludo secubo seduco seiungo sepono etc. The linked entry calls it an "inseparable ...
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1answer
27 views

How did 'ex-' + 'serere' compound to signify 'thrust out, put forth'?

Etymonline avers the etymology for 'exert' to be from: 1660s, "thrust forth, push out," from Latin exertus/exsertus, past participle of exerere/exserere "thrust out, put forth," from ex- "out" (...
5
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1answer
51 views

Where does -na come from?

In this answer, fdb suggested that Greek selēnē < selannā < *selas-nā and Latin lūna < losnā < *lowks-nā share a suffix. What is this noun-forming -nā, and is it the same one that's seen ...
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1answer
49 views

What semantic notions underlie 'hole' and a swelling, bulge'? [closed]

The English version of Wiktionary's page on 'trou' (French for 'hole') avers that it's: From Medieval Latin traugus, a "barbarous" Latin word first attested in the Ripuarian Law, probably related ...
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58 views

Is there any explanation for the formation of “bomphiologia” as a Greek word for “verborum bombus”?

Recently on ELU, a question was asked about the meaning of three rhetorical terms that are obviously based on Greek: “macrologia”, “periergia” and “bomphiologia”. The Greek etymologies of "macrologia"...
5
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2answers
53 views

Is there any relation between Bellerophon and belua?

I know this is a long shot, one word being Greek and the other Latin, but is it at all possible for there to be a relation between Bellerophon, the slayer of beasts, and belua "beast"? A cursory ...
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0answers
26 views

What is the origin of the active perfect indicative personal endings?

The active perfect stem conjugation in Latin resembles the conjugation of esse a lot, but I recently learned that it is likely to be a coincidence. However, the active perfect indicative forms do not ...
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0answers
21 views

Did meminisse ever had a present tense?

The verb meminī, meminisse, *mementus ever have any sort of (morphologically) present tense? If not, why not? If so, at what point was it lost in Latin? Bonus points: if the present tense had ...
3
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0answers
47 views

Etymology of Ἀσκληπιός (Greek)

There are different theories on the etymology of Asclepius, all of which I want to understand. According to Wikipedia: The etymology of the name is unknown. In his revised version of Frisk's ...
5
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1answer
40 views

Is the sigmatic future related to the sigmatic aorist?

When I was learning Ancient Greek, I was taught that most verbs had three basic stems corresponding to the different aspects: imperfective -λυ-, aoristic -λυσ-, and perfective -λελυκ-. Adding an ...
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1answer
83 views

What's the deal with the extra U in 'mortuus'?

The verb mori ("to die") has the unusual past participle mortuus ("dead"). The stem of the participle is mortu-, the only example of a past participle stem ending in a vowel I can think of. (If my ...
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45 views

Where did the passive infinitive come from?

The etymology of the present active infinitive seems well-documented. Proto-Italic had an infinitive-like suffix *-si, so *dōnā- + *-si = *dōnāsi > dōnāre by regular sound changes (s → z → r between ...
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1answer
82 views

Why is there a short ŭ in rŭtus?

In Cerberus's list of u-stem verbs, rŭō, rŭere, rŭī, rŭtus is the only one with a short ŭ in the participle stem. Why is this? Does it go back to different types of verbs in PIE, as with stătus ...
5
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2answers
59 views

Comparing the etymologies of the adjective and participle 'latus'

What are the etymologies of the adjective latus ("wide") and the participle latus ("carried")? I had assumed that they are the same and the participle just started a new life as an adjective after a ...
8
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1answer
71 views

How did the literal meaning of “putare” develop into “to judge, to think, etc.”?

For the verb puto -are, Cassell's and Lewis & Short give a primary meaning of "to clean, cleanse" and a literal meaning of "to trim, prune or lop trees or vines". I can easily imagine the path ...
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0answers
30 views

Comparing -logists and -nomists

Various words for professions end in -logist or -nomist. I hope I do not do terrible injustice by treating -nomer as a synonym for -nomist. These seem to come from the Greek words logos and nomos and ...
5
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0answers
39 views

Is credulus a diminutive?

In the comments to an answer involving the adjective credulus the question has arisen if this word is to be parsed as a diminutive, even if the form of which it would be a diminutive (say, *credus, ...
12
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1answer
114 views

What is the earliest known word borrowed from Latin to Greek?

There was a great cultural borrowing of ideas from Greece to Rome, and a number of Greek words ended up being borrowed to Latin. But it must have happened the other way, too, at some point. What is ...
4
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1answer
633 views

What are the Latin forms behind credit and debit?

The English terms credit and debit seem to come from the Latin verbs credere and debere. However, it is not clear to me what forms of these verbs are behind these English words. It could be that they ...
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62 views

How did the figurative meaning of 'iniungere' develop from the literal one?

The verb iniungere (a compound of in- and iungere) literally means "to join, fasten, attach". However, an Etymonline entry also gives it a figurative meaning "to inflict, to attack, impose". How was ...
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2answers
122 views

Where did the name Ulixes come from?

He's Odysseus in Homer, but how did he become Ulixes/Ulysses when he arrived (so to speak) in Rome, where there were many people who knew him from the Iliad and the Odyssey? And was there a separate ...
5
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2answers
133 views

What is the meaning and history of the word Imperator?

As most people with historical interests know, the English word "emperor" is derived from Old French empereor which is derived from Latin imperator. IMHO it seems more correct to refer to a Roman ...
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2answers
66 views

What does the prefix 'ab-' mean in the Latin verb 'abundare'?

abound (v.) early 14c., from Old French abonder "to abound, be abundant, come together in great numbers" (12c.), from Latin abundare "overflow, run over," from Latin ab- "off" (see ab-) + ...
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3answers
367 views

Where does Pliny, or any ancient author, write about a stilus plumbeus?

Researching the history of the pencil the German speaking web is full of quotes that attribute to Pliny the mentioning of a stilus plumbeus as the historical and etymological source for the word ...
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3answers
150 views

Why σελήνη instead of ἑλήνη?

The Greek word for the moon is σελήνη selēnē, σελᾱνᾱ selānā, or σελάννᾱ selánnā, depending on dialect. All seem to come transparently from the same root as σέλας sélas, "shine". But since these both ...
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37 views

What semantic notions underlie 'that' and 'because'?

How did signification 2 below (the etymon of quia)semantically generalize to 1? Etymology Old neuter plural accusative case of quis, i.e. Proto-Indo-European *kʷih₂. Conjunction ...
5
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0answers
56 views

Does the phrase “orbis terrarum” reflect Ancient Roman knowledge that the Earth is a sphere?

Does the phrase orbis terrarum reflect Ancient Roman knowledge that the Earth is a sphere? Some kinds of evidence that might suggest an answer: Did people say orbis terrarum for the world before they ...
5
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2answers
82 views

What are the most important scholarly resources for Latin and Greek historical linguistics?

When it comes to historical linguistics (history, prehistory, Indo-European studies, etymology) of Latin and Greek, what are the most important resources? The resources can be historical grammars, ...
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34 views

What semantic notions underlie 'heat' and 'cold, moist humour'? [duplicate]

[ Etymonline : ] [5.] late 14c., fleem "viscid mucus" (the stuff itself and also regarded as a bodily humor), from Old French fleume (13c., Modern French flegme), [4.] from Late Latin phlegma, ...
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1answer
55 views

Are there other Latin words from the same PIE root as oculus?

In an answer to the question whether oculus is a diminutive, cnread told that this word comes from the Proto-Indo-European root *H3ekw, "see". Are there other Latin words from this same root, in ...
2
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3answers
116 views

What is the etymology of the Latin name of Cambridge?

Cambridge is known in Latin as Cantabrigia, and I do not recall seeing other names in use. What is the etymology of this name and how does it relate to the English one? It does remotely resemble the ...
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0answers
74 views

Plura or pluria?

Before answering this recent question about the US motto, I had to check whether the neuter version of plures is plura or pluria. I had recalled right: plura appears to be indeed the sole form used in ...
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3answers
188 views

What is the etymology and origin of the name of Dido's sister Anna?

Dido's sister and confidante Anna has a name that I believe to be unusual in Latin. Where did this name come from? Is it perhaps Semitic and related to Hebrew Hannah and the derived name Anna? The ...
4
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1answer
66 views

Pentheus as “Divine Suffering”

Q: Can the etymology of Πενθεύς truly be divorced from divinity? Here's a name that even Graves translates merely as "grief". But as a student of Graves, this is one his translation may be too ...
14
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1answer
150 views

What is the origin of the -a in words like “collega, advena”?

There are a couple of masculine (or common) nouns of the first declension. Some are from masculine Greek -ês, like poeta, nauta. But others, like collega, advena, parricida, scriba, incola, agricola, ...
8
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1answer
87 views

Latin exclamations ending in “h”

I was writing in Latin recently and was remarking to myself how strange "proh dolor" looks. It seems odd to see a Latin word ending in "h," and a Perseus search for such words reveals (beside Semitic ...
5
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2answers
137 views

Plural genitive endings in -i

This is a speculative question that (I hope) has a good answer from historical linguistics. My starting observation was that all nouns appear to have a plural genitive ending in -um: -arum, -orum, -(...
4
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1answer
123 views

How do we end up with three vowels at the end of Περικλέους? (Greek)

According to Wiktionary, the genitive of Περικλῆς, or Περικλέης, is Περικλέους; and similarly, that of Σοφοκλῆς, or Σοφοκλέης, Σοφοκλέους. Question: How do we end up with three vowels, εου, at the ...
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2answers
183 views

How do we know that Italian words come from accusatives, not ablatives?

I have been told by several sources that Italian nouns and adjectives that originate from Latin come from accusative forms. Also the final -m is lost and an u becomes o. For example, caro > carnem > ...
7
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1answer
204 views

Is a 'caper' just a goat, or also a boar?

Lewis and Short have this: căper, pri, m. [cf. κάπρος, wild boar], a he-goat, a goat. How come the Greek word means boar, while the Latin means goat? I presume the words are related; how could ...