69 votes

Is "history" a male-biased word ("his+story")?

While I'm sure a better-research answer might be able to give you more insight, perhaps a simple response will be a good place to start. As you found, "history" comes from Greek ἱστορία (historia) ...
  • 37.3k
40 votes
Accepted

Is "history" a male-biased word ("his+story")?

"Herstory" is completely unrelated to the etymology of "history" As others have mentioned, there is no etymological connection between the first part of "history" and the ...
  • 22.8k
29 votes

Why did so many Romans name their children after ordinal numbers?

The origin of ordinal names seems to be unknown, but one theory dating back to Varro is that ordinal praenomen were originally used for children based on the month in which they were born (a custom ...
  • 22.8k
28 votes
Accepted

Why hippopotamus instead of potamohippus?

As you mention, Latin hippopotamus, -i comes from Greek ἱπποπόταμος, which is a compound of ἵππος (hippos = horse) and ποταμός (potamos = river). In Latin, Lewis and Short cites instances in Pomponius ...
  • 37.3k
26 votes
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Does "ad" have its origin in Hebrew/Semitic languages?

No, the similarity is almost certainly accidental. This kind of coincidental similarity is pretty common, especially in short words like ad. Latin ad "to, near, at" has cognates in several other ...
  • 29.3k
23 votes
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When is "diēs" masculine, when is it feminine, and why can this word take different genders?

I believe there's no straightforward answer as to „why different usage contexts correlate to different grammatical gender“, but the etymological origin gives some insights to the gender. Diēs comes ...
  • 641
22 votes
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Is there a relationship between the word amor (love) & mors (death)?

Presumably the basis of this made-up etymology is the fact that the words share a sequence of three letters. But amor comes from the root am- "love" plus the suffix -or, which is a common way to form ...
  • 29.3k
20 votes
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Are the two cums related?

The similarity is a coincidence; these words are unrelated. Etymological dictionaries such as De Vaan's give the following account of the two words: The earlier form of the conjunction cum is quom; ...
  • 29.3k
20 votes
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How do we know that Italian words come from accusatives, not ablatives?

Professor Martin Maiden (Professor of the Romance Languages, Fellow of Trinity College) writes that "The overwhelming majority of modern nouns and adjectives [in Italian - Alex B.] appear to ...
  • 11.4k
19 votes
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Why are the words for "children" (liberi) and "book" (libri) so similar?

These words are unrelated: they developed independently from different Proto-Indo-European roots, according to Michiel de Vaan's Etymological Dictionary (337–38). First, liber or librī, meaning "book,...
19 votes
Accepted

How did mundus come to mean both world and clean?

It's possible that the identity is a coincidence and that the adjective and the noun are unrelated homophones. De Vaan's etymological dictionary lists the two words as separate entries and does not ...
  • 29.3k
19 votes
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frater < "fere" + "alter"?

To elaborate unnecessarily, frāter can securely be traced back to PIE *bʰréh₂tēr, which is a combination of the root *bʰréh₂ + a suffix *-ter (+ the nominative singular ending *-s, which is lost with ...
  • 6,959
18 votes
Accepted

Is the prefix "di-" more Latin-like than "bi-"?

di- is Greek and bi- is Latin The Proto-Indo-European root for "two" is reconstructed as *dw-. The remnants of this w can be seen in English "two", Russian dva, Ancient Greek δύο, ...
  • 54.8k
18 votes
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Why 'Vir' is the only word of 2nd declension with -ir ending?

Vir developed its s-less ending from the process of syncope described in Alex B.'s answer to "Why do some 2nd decl. "-er" adjectives and nouns drop the "e" in the stem?": ...
  • 22.8k
17 votes
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If arm is 'arma', why is unarmed 'inermis' and not 'inarmis'?

I believe this is one of many examples of Latin vowel reduction in word-internal syllables. The basic pattern is that short vowels in word-internal syllables were reduced: the resulting vowel in ...
  • 22.8k
16 votes
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Homo Novus vs Novus Homo

While it's true that it's "standard" for the adjective to follow the noun, Latin word order is VERY flexible, and a noun following an adjective is not at all unusual. A quick search of the corpus at ...
16 votes
Accepted

Is there a root word for -scendo?

Rather than scendo, the word you're looking for is scando, for which De Vaan's Etymological Dictionary has the following:
15 votes

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

Italian noun and adjective forms are not derived exclusively from Classical Latin accusative forms: Sometimes an Italian form comes from the Classical Latin nominative, as in the singular form of the ...
  • 22.8k
15 votes
Accepted

What's up with 'ubī'?

It used to be! At some point, the word seems to have been *cubi, as seen in compounds like alicubi "somewhere", nēcubi "not anywhere", sīcubi "if anywhere"; this came ...
  • 54.8k
15 votes

The Meaning of Scelerisque?

Nothing to do with chocolate (of which the Romans were of course sadly ignorant). Sceleris is the genitive singular form of the noun scelus "evil deed, crime". It means "of an/the evil ...
  • 29.3k
14 votes
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Why might "Philosophiae Doctor" (the source of "Ph.D.") have been preferred over "Doctor Philosophiae"?

There is no significance to the word order, and both are perfectly acceptable in Latin. In fact, it is only in English translation that there is a difference felt. The genitive in Latin is perfectly ...
  • 42.7k
14 votes

When is "diēs" masculine, when is it feminine, and why can this word take different genders?

I can only partially answer your question. In medieval documents dies is sometimes feminine where based on classical usage we would expect it to be masculine. Examples: Liber Pontificalis1 (~10th ...
  • 1,193
14 votes

What is the meaning of "REM ORUINE PANDO"

That "U" is probably a "D": rem ordine pando. This is a quote from Vergil's Aeneid 3.179 and means "I explained the whole thing [i.e. the whole story] in order."
  • 42.7k
14 votes

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

Well, this may obviously be outdated, but G.M. Messing banged out a 3-page treatment of "The Etymology of Lat. Mentula" for the Oct. 1956 Classical Philology (Vol. 51, No. 4, pp. 247–249). His ...
  • 363
14 votes
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Why is it Iuppiter rather than Iuppater?

You're absolutely right that PIE *a gives Old Latin /a/. But somewhere between Old Latin and Classical Latin, vowel reduction happened. Basically, Old Latin stress was always on the first syllable. ...
  • 54.8k
14 votes
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Are concubine and concupiscence ultimately related?

Both words have the same prefix (con-), but the rest is different. cupere means “to desire”, cubare means “to lie down”. “p” is not “b”. “desire” is not “lying down”.
  • 16k
14 votes
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Was avē truly pronounced with an "unspelled /h/"?

That's what Quintilian implicitly said in his Institutio Oratoria (in the 1st century CE), and there's no real reason to doubt him in this case: the fact that the earliest attested plural form (in ...
  • 6,959
13 votes

When did the word "ly" enter the Latin language and where did it come from?

As you say, “ly” is an early form of the Romance article; you can compare the Old French article for nom. sing. masc. "li". Aquinas uses it in his commentary on the Gospel of John 1,1 explicitly as ...
  • 16k
13 votes
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Are "sex" and "sexus" etymologically related?

The gist of Au101's answer is confirmed by de Vaan's Etymological Dictionary. First, regarding sex, in Proto-Italic and Proto-Indo-European, he gives: PIt. *seks 'six', *seks-to- 'sixth' PIE *(s)...
13 votes
Accepted

What does the suffix -mentum add to a word's meaning?

According to Miller (2006: 76, 78), the endings -men and -mentum form a deverbal (with one exception) noun with the semantics of means, instrument or result of action of the verb. Relevant quotations ...
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