Earthlings and Other Lings
Omniglot Blog » Etymology
by Simon
3d ago
Greetings fellow Earthlings and anyone else who might be reading this. Did you know that this word originally meant farmer? These days in Science Fiction, an Earthling is “an inhabitant of Earth, as opposed to one of another planet; specifically, a sentient member of any species native to Earth.” In the 17th century is referred to “A person who is materialistic or worldly; a worldling.” and in the 16th century, it referred to “An inhabitant of Earth, as opposed to one of heaven.” [source] Going back further, it meant one who tills the earth, a farmer, a husbandman or a ploughman. It comes fro ..read more
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Spreading Sweetness
Omniglot Blog » Etymology
by Simon
1w ago
Foods, and the words that describe them, can travel around the world. For example, tea comes from China, and so do words for tea in many languages. Similarly, avocado, chocolate, tamale, tomato come from Mexico (both the words and the foods). Those words came to Europe from other continents, and I recently discovered some words that travelled from Europe, or Western Asia, to many other parts of the world. It started with the Proto-Indo-European word *médʰu (honey, mead), which spread throughout Europe and Asia, and possibly as far as China, Korea, Japan and Vietnam [source]. Descendants of *m ..read more
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Super Brows
Omniglot Blog » Etymology
by Simon
2w ago
Someone who is supercilious is arrogantly superior, haughty or shows contemptuous indifference. Supercilious comes from the Latin superciliōsus (haughty, supercilious) from supercilium (eyebrow, will, pride, haughtiness, arrogance, sterness, superciliousness) from super- (above, over) and‎ cilium ( eyelid), from Proto-Italic *keljom, from PIE *ḱel-yo-m, from *ḱel- (to cover) [source]. Equivalents of supercilious in other languages include: hooghartig (“high-hearted”) = haughty, supercilious in Dutch hochnäsig (“high-nosed”) = snooty, stuck-up, haughty, supercilious, arrogant in German kione ..read more
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A Little Alliteration
Omniglot Blog » Etymology
by Simon
3w ago
I like a little alliteration, don’t you? Alliteration is “The repetition of consonant sounds at the beginning of two or more words immediately succeeding each other, or at short intervals.” [source]. As in the sentence above. It comes from Modern/New Latin alliterationem, from alliterare (to begin with the same letter), from Latin ad (to, near) and lītera (letter, script) [source]. Other names for this include consonance (the repetition of consonants sounds) [source] and head rhyme. If similar or indentical vowel sounds are being repeated, as in “How now, brown cow?”, it’s called assonance [s ..read more
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Buckling Swashes
Omniglot Blog » Etymology
by Simon
1M ago
Have you a swashed any buckles or buckled any swashes recently? Do you known the differences between a pirate, a privateer and a buccaneer? What about a freebooter or a corsair? A swashbuckler is a swordsman or fencer who engages in showy or extravagant swordplay, a daring adventurer or a kind of period adventure story with flashy action and a lighthearted tone [source]. A swashbuckler likes to swashbuckle, that is, take part in exciting romantic adventures [source]. Swash as a noun has a variety of meanings, including: The water that washes up on shore after an incoming wave has broken. A n ..read more
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Chocolate Peanuts
Omniglot Blog » Etymology
by Simon
1M ago
What’s the connection between chocolate and peanuts? Well, peanuts covered with chocolate taste good, and they are both native to the Americas, but apart from that, a French word for peanut, cacahuète [ka.ka.ɥɛt / ka.ka.wɛt], was borrowed from Spanish cacahuate / cacahuete [ka.kaˈwa.t̪e / kakaˈwete] (peanut), which comes from the Classical Nahuatl cacahuatl (cocoa bean), from Proto-Nahuan *kakawatl, from Proto-Mixe-Zoque *kakawa (cacao) [source]. This is also the root of words for cacao, the main ingredient in chocolate (at least good chocolate), in many languages [source]. In Spanish, cacahu ..read more
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Ruffled Rifles
Omniglot Blog » Etymology
by Simon
2M ago
The words rifle and ruffle sound similar, but are they related? Let’s find out. A rifle is a firearm fired from the shoulder with a long, rifled barrel, which increases range and improves accuracy. It is short for “rifled gun”, referring to the spiral grooves inside the barrel (rifling). It comes from Middle English riflen (to rob, plunder, search through), from Old French rifler (to lightly scratch, scrape off, plunder), from Proto-Germanic *rīfaną (to tear, rend), from Proto-Indo-European *h₁reyp- (to tear) [source]. A ruffle is any gathered or curled strip of fabric added as trim or decora ..read more
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Madrugadores (Early Risers)
Omniglot Blog » Etymology
by Simon
2M ago
Are you a madrugador? I used to be, but now I’m more of a dormilón and a trasnochador. Madrugador [ma.ð̞ɾu.ɣ̞aˈð̞oɾ] is a Spanish (and Portuguese) word that means an early riser, early bird or morning person, and as an adjective it means rising or waking early. [source]. Madrugador comes from madrugar (to get up early), from Vulgar Latin *mātūricāre (to wake up early), from Latin matūro (to ripen, mature, hasten, rush), from mātūrus (mature, ripe, early, soon), from Proto-Italic *mātus (ripeness) from the PIE *meh₂- (to ripen, to mature) [source]. Sometimes you can pack a lot of meaning into ..read more
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Noodling About Nurdles
Omniglot Blog » Etymology
by Simon
3M ago
Do you like to nurdle? The verb to nurdle can mean to gently waffle or muse on a subject which one clearly knows little about, which is something I do occasionally, or to score runs (in cricket) by gently nudging the ball into vacant areas of the field. It can also mean to shoot (a wink) into a position too close to the pot to be easily potted (in tiddlywinks). As a noun, a nurdle is such a shot in cricket or tiddlywinks; cylindrical shaped pre-production plastic pellet used in manufacturing and packaging; or blob of toothpaste shaped like a wave, often depicted on toothpaste packaging [source ..read more
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Whimperatives
Omniglot Blog » Etymology
by Simon
3M ago
When you ask someone to do something for you, but in an indirect kind of way, or in other words, you phrase an order or imperative obliquely as a question, this is apparently called a whimperative. For example, you might say “Would you mind closing the window?”, rather than the more direct “Please, close the window” or “Close the window!”. Or you might say “Why don’t you be quiet?” instead of “Be quiet” [source]. This word was coined by Jerrold Sadock, a professor of Linguistics at the University of Chicago, in an essay he wrote in 1970. It’s a blend of whimper and imperative. Another term fo ..read more
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