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Questions tagged [etymologia]

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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Origin of “lunatĭcus”

In Spanish we have the word lunático with the following meaning: One who suffers from madness, not continuous, but at intervals. This word comes from Latin lunatĭcus. According to Lewis & ...
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Unde “Laelaps”?

Laelaps was a mythical hunting dog that could always catch its prey. The name comes from Greek λαῖλαψ, "hurricane". But where does this word come from? LSJ doesn't provide an etymology, and ...
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Why did the Ro­mans per­ceive dark­ness, ᴛᴇ­ɴᴇ­ʙʀᴀᴇ, as a plu­ral count noun?

Why did the Ro­mans per­ceive dark­ness, te­ne­brae, as a plu­ral count noun? [Per­se­us cor­pus-search ref­er­ence] Or per­haps the bet­ter ques­tion is: what spe­cial nu­ance is con­veyed by the ...
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how to interpret ‘formosus’ via its morphological components

The adj. formosus can be decomposed as follows: forma + -os-us where forma means ‘shape, form’ and -os- ‘with abundance’. However, when the two notions come together, the whole, which literally ...
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on the word–analysis of ‘viridis’

According to OLD, the adj. viridis derives from the verb vireo, but nothing is mentioned about the suffix that turns the verb to the adj. Could anyone tell about the suffix that transforms the verb ...
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On the etymology of “conundrum”

The word conundrum "sounds" very Latin (or at least, it does not sound English enough to me). Yet, it seems its origin is unclear. Wiktionary states: A word of unknown origin with several variants, ...
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Where did the Latin language get its infinitive verb endings from?

Some time ago, a user in the Spanish language site asked if the Spanish verb endings -ar, -er and -ir had a special meaning. I then answered that the endings do not have any meaning by themselves, at ...
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Is Nietzsche's proposed etymology of “bonus” (good) correct?

In the first treatise of On the Genealogy of Morality, §5, Nietzsche proposes the following derivation of bonus (good): I believe I may interpret the Latin bonus as "the warrior": assuing that ...
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What does con- in “conceptus” mean? How does it relate to “a thing conceived”?

Why Do Languages Change? (2010) by R. L. Trask (1944-2004). p. 105. (Latin conceptus is literally ‘with-taking’) Does the prefix con- truly mean “with” here? But Etymonline says that it's "...
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How did 'et' and 'iam' compound to signify “even” in 'etiam'?

How does "and, also" + "now, already" compound to signify "even"? I don't understand how combining the notions of "and, also" + "now, already" can yield "even". Wiktionary:
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Does *meditari* mean “measure”?

Does meditari have a meaning like "measure"? Using Google (I don't know which dictionary it's quoting), I see ... However I don't think I'm seeing that in a Latin dictionary, e.g. Lewis and Short or ...
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Nihilominus and nonetheless, related?

I find the word nihilominus remarkable. Like many Spanish or English words, the meaning can sort of be deduced from the meaning of the words making the composite (e.g. paraguas in Spanish, whiteboard ...
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How did 'interesse' shift from meaning 'to be between' to “to concern, make a difference, be of importance”?

What semantics notions underlie the original meaning as stated by Etymonline literally "to be between," from inter "between" (see inter-) + esse "to be" (from PIE root *es- "to be"). with ...
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1answer
889 views

Does the word “negotium” literally mean “not otium”?

Spanish word ocio (English: 'leisure') and negocio (English: 'business` among other meanings) come from Latin otium and negotium. Spanish ocio also gave ocioso, as in estar ocioso (English: 'to be ...
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What is the difference between nego, ignoro, and nescio?

Trying to understand the subtle differences between the three words "nego", "ignoro", and "nescio". This question is not about the meanings in modern English, but the original meanings of the ...
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566 views

Etymology of “salarium” and its connection to salt

It has been asked before both in the English Language & Usage site and the Spanish Language site about the etymology of salary and salario, respectively. In both cases, this site was mentioned as ...
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1answer
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Audio and video… and tango?

Audio and video are two (apparently XX-century) concepts. Both take the same form as 1st-person sing., present tense Latin verbs. Wiktionary articles for the English words (audio, video) assert that ...
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'videlicet': How did “it is permissible to see” semantically shift to mean “that is to say”?

How did 1 beneath semantically shift to 2? Etymonline: viz. 1530s, abbreviation of videlicet [2.] "that is to say, to wit, namely" (mid-15c.), from Latin videlicet, contraction of ...
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If arm is 'arma', why is unarmed 'inermis' and not 'inarmis'?

I came across the Spanish word 'inerme', which comes from Latin inermis and means unarmed. Since the Latin word for arm is 'arma' and the preffix 'in' indicates negation, it is clear that the form '...
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What is the etymology of the word “anterior”?

I am looking for the etymology of the Latin adjective "anterior" (which is also a Spanish word, with the same meaning). Neither Wiktionary nor L&S provide hints on its etymology. It seems ...
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Where does strīx come from?

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....
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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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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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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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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 ...
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1answer
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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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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 ...
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1answer
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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 ...
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1answer
61 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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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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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, ...
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1answer
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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
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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" (...
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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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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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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"...
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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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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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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 ...
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62 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 ...
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1answer
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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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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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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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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 ...
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62 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 ...
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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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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 ...
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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, ...
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135 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 ...
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637 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 ...