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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1answer
105 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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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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102 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, ...
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230 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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664 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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106 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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411 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 ...
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821 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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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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463 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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223 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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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 ...
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123 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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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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101 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 ...
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741 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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198 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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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 ...
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117 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 ...
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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, ...
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152 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 ...
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239 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, -(...
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1answer
178 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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676 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 > ...
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251 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 ...
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Did 'apricus' undergo antiphrasis?

Etymology [ of (French verb) 'abrier' ] From Middle French, from Old French abrier (“to cover”), itself mostly likely from Late Latin aprīcāre, from Latin aprīcārī, present active infinitive of ...
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240 views

is there “i” suffix that makes verb from noun? etymology of tio(n) suffix

Wiktionary says on PIE -h₃onh₂-: Descendants Italic: ... Latin: -iō (from *-i-h₃onh₂-) (e.g. legiō (“group of selected people”)) Latin: -ō (e.g. Nāsō (“having a conspicuous nose”), poss. ...
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118 views

What's the logic of sub- in words like suppleo and sufficio?

The words suppleo and sufficio both derive from the prefix sub- ("under"), in which the 'b' of sub- is assimilated into the following consonant. Both these words carry the connotation of "being enough"...
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151 views

Is urgolius a Latin word, as this Wiktionnaire etymology seems to imply?

I was reading about the French word orgueil recently, and I learned that it derives from the Frankish word *urgōl. (980, Passion), orgolz, puis (1080, Chanson de Roland) orgoill et (1130, Eneas) ...
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140 views

Where does “simia” come from?

The L&S entry for simia ("ape") says that the etymology is dubious, and it is perhaps akin to similis. What do other sources have to say on the etymology? Are there popular theories or is it ...
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102 views

How did the mixed-root “anticipātiō, anticipātiōnis” form?

I was considering the English word anticipation the other day, and wondered at how it ended up with a Greek prefix followed by a Latin root.1 After a quick search I found that the word derives from ...
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1answer
76 views

When did “comment” stop meaning “lie”?

A commentum (from comminiscor) is, according to the Elementary Latin Dictionary: an invention, fabrication, pretence, fiction, falsehood At some point, a commentarium (and, I presume, its cognate ...
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418 views

Does the verb “amare” come from the babble word for “mother”?

Wiktionary gives us the following etymology of amare. Probably from Proto-Indo-European *am-a-, *am- (“mother, aunt”), a lost nursery-word of the papa-type. Compare amita (“aunt”), Old High German ...
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142 views

What “ment” means in “incrementum”

What "ment" means in "incrementum"? On Wiktionary I have found meaning of only first parts of the word.
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Can infans refer to children who can speak?

The word infans means basically "speechless", as the connection to the verb fari immediately suggests. One specific meaning of this word is a small child (III in the linked L&S entry). I assume ...
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Are “vir” and “virgo” etymologically related?

Are vir and virgo etymologically related? St. Isidore says, in his Etymologies p. 242, that virago and vir are related: A ‘heroic maiden’ (virago) is so called because she ‘acts like a man’ (...
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144 views

Is ulula a diminutive?

Is ulula (an owl of some kind) a diminutive? It looks like one, but I'm not familiar with a Latin word looking remotely like ula. The word appears to be onomatopoetic to some extent, but it's hard to ...
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1answer
1k views

Homo Novus vs Novus Homo

To my surprise, the English Wikipedia article about the concept of homines novi is called Novus Homo, not homo novus as I would expect. I have been taught that Latin order is almost always ...
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1answer
151 views

Does the Latin nosco come from Greek?

Does the Latin verb nosco come from Greek, or did the shared root (cf. γιγνώσκω) end up in Greek and Latin separately? According to Wiktionary, it seems to be the latter case, as the free dictionary ...
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What is the word for “reason” and what resonance does it have in Roman culture?

I find it interesting that the French expression avoir raison shares an etymology with the English words "reason" and "rational". In a post-truth political era, it is refreshing that the French ...
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1answer
266 views

Origin of supine form?

Where did the supine form originate? It seems strange that for there to be a verbal noun with only accusative and ablative forms. This, at least to me, suggests that there was once other forms, ...
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1answer
162 views

From “competo” to “competition”

I was looking at the origin of the English word "competition" and it seems to come from the Latin competitio. Yet, this word comes from the Latin competere, which is the present infinitive of ...
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346 views

Is there an exclusive word for octopus in Ancient Greek?

I was having the great "octopuses vs. octopi" debate with a scientist friend the other day, and decided to check the lexicon. The only entry I could find relates the word to measurement, either of ...
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257 views

How did '-met' + 'ipse' + '-issimus' compound to mean <the same> (in *metipsimus)?

[ Wiktionary for *metipsimus :] Etymology [0.] From -met (emphatic suffix) + ipse (“himself”) + -issimus (superlative suffix). Adjective *metipsimus (feminine *metipsima, neuter *metipsimum); first/...
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What semantic notions underlie <the same> (in *metipsimus) and <even> (in 'même')?

[ Wiktionary for 'même' :] Etymology [3.] From Middle French mesme, from Old French mesme, earlier meïsme, [2.] from Vulgar Latin *metipsimus [= the same], [1.] from Latin -met [emphatic suffix] ...
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Why did Romans refer to the ring finger as a “medicinal finger”?

In the response to another question about the names of the fingers in Latin, we learned that the ring finger is often referred to as a digitus medicus or digitus medicinalis: a "medical/medicinal ...
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Is the prefix “di-” more Latin-like than “bi-”?

Question. (1) Is there anything close to scientifically-meaningful to say about whether the prefix "di-" is more Latin than the prefix "bi-", when indicating two-ness? (2) Are there published ...
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182 views

Etymology of axioma and axis

Is it possible that "axis" and "axioma" (English "axiom") derive from the same etymological root? From a superficial search, it at least seems possible that the PIE root *ag "to move" (i.e. axiom: to ...
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752 views

On the etymology of “violin” and “vitula”

Several English etymological sources say violin is from Latin vitula. A vitula/vitulus is a calf. But why was the instrument named after a calf? But some sources say this vitula may be from vitulari "...
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178 views

Is there a Ancient Greek or Latin equivalent to “steely eyed”?

I'm looking for parallel idioms related by vocabulary and/or meaning. This is in reference to a question on Mythology regarding the "gray eyed" translation of an epithet of Athena: Why is Athena “...

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