Page 1 of 8

Interesting Etymologies

Posted: 2015-11-13, 20:51
by quasar1987
This is a thread for sharing any words you know in any language that have an interesting and perhaps unexpected etymology. I'll begin with 'excruciate', from the Latin ex + cruciare (to torment, crucify). I had never before made the connection between 'excruciating' and 'crucifixion'.

Re: Interesting Etymologies

Posted: 2015-11-13, 20:56
by quasar1987
'Fossa' (a depression, commonly used in skeletal anatomy) and 'fossil' both derive from the Latin fodere, 'to dig.'

Re: Interesting Etymologies

Posted: 2015-11-14, 21:12
by Levike
Rahat is the Romanian slang word for "shit" and it comes from the Turkish word for "comfortable".

Muie is the Romanian word for "blowjob" and it comes from the Romani word for "mouth".

Re: Interesting Etymologies

Posted: 2015-11-15, 2:33
by vijayjohn
Kesihan in Malay means 'pity' and comes from combining two words in Mandarin that are both used for expressing pity: 可惜 kěxī and 遗憾 yíhàn.

Re: Interesting Etymologies

Posted: 2015-11-15, 8:56
by Ser
Latin saltō 'to dance' is the iterative of saliō 'to jump'. So 'jump many times' > 'dance'.

Re: Interesting Etymologies

Posted: 2015-12-15, 8:34
by Earwig
I like how медведь (bear) was originally a metonym meaning 'eater of honey'.

Re: Interesting Etymologies

Posted: 2015-12-15, 11:42
by IpseDixit
[flag=]it[/flag] salamelecco (obsequious cerimony) - from Arabic salā’m ῾alaik (peace on you)

[flag=]it[/flag] vasistas (this kind of window) - from German was ist das?

Re: Interesting Etymologies

Posted: 2015-12-15, 12:58
by melski
IpseDixit wrote:[flag=]it[/flag] vasistas (this kind of window) - from German was ist das?

It's the same in French :)

Re: Interesting Etymologies

Posted: 2015-12-15, 18:55
by Ser
Spanish algarabía 'noise of people speaking to each other/yelling at each other at the same time' comes from the Arabic word for "Arabic": العربية al-3arabiyya.

Re: Interesting Etymologies

Posted: 2015-12-30, 19:49
by Levike
I just read that the Hungarian drink pálinka comes from the Slovak word páliť, which means to burn.

Re: Interesting Etymologies

Posted: 2015-12-30, 22:05
by Michael
Our verb pazzià "to play" comes from the Greek παίζω pézo. We only use the native equivalent jucà in reference to sports.

Re: Interesting Etymologies

Posted: 2015-12-30, 22:33
by vijayjohn
Levike wrote:I just read that the Hungarian drink pálinka comes from the Slovak word páliť, which means to burn.

Kind of like how the English equivalent brandy comes from Dutch brandewijn 'burnt wine'

Re: Interesting Etymologies

Posted: 2015-12-31, 15:44
by linguoboy
Czech kmotr "godfather", from Latin commater "godmother", via Proto-Slavic *kъmotrъ.

I can't think of any other case in Indo-European where a noun denoting persons has gone from feminine > masculine rather than vice versa.

Re: Interesting Etymologies

Posted: 2015-12-31, 20:47
by Johanna
In Swedish there is dass which means 'outhouse', and it's in fact the German neuter definite article das.

Apparently it was commonly called das Haus a few hundred years ago during a time when a huge chunk of the Swedish nobility spoke German, and with time the second part got dropped and only the article remained.



vijayjohn wrote:
Levike wrote:I just read that the Hungarian drink pálinka comes from the Slovak word páliť, which means to burn.

Kind of like how the English equivalent brandy comes from Dutch brandewijn 'burnt wine'

We've got brännvin which encompasses a few different kinds of hard liquor, like vodka and akvavit, so it seems to be a pretty common thing. The term for producing said liquors, att bränna sprit literally means 'to burn alcohol', and our word for moonshine is hembränt, 'home burnt'.

Re: Interesting Etymologies

Posted: 2015-12-31, 21:26
by vijayjohn
Johanna wrote:so it seems to be a pretty common thing

Exactly, because the process of making it does involve burning as I'm sure you already knew. :)

Re: Interesting Etymologies

Posted: 2015-12-31, 21:27
by Dormouse559
French has the noun (s)chelem /ʃlɛm/, which is a borrowing of English slam from the 18th century. You mainly see it as part of "grand chelem" (grand slam). I say its etymology is interesting because the spelling and pronunciation changes it underwent mean it no longer looks nor sounds at all English.

Re: Interesting Etymologies

Posted: 2016-01-01, 2:49
by Ser
Dormouse559 wrote:French has the noun (s)chelem /ʃlɛm/, which is a borrowing of English slam from the 18th century. You mainly see it as part of "grand chelem" (grand slam). I say its etymology is interesting because the spelling and pronunciation changes it underwent mean it no longer looks nor sounds at all English.

That also happened to "riding coat" > la redingote [laʁødæ̃gɔt].

Re: Interesting Etymologies

Posted: 2016-01-01, 3:29
by Dormouse559
:shock: I've never needed to say "riding coat" before, in French or English, so I probably never would've encountered that.

I just remembered one I learned in high school. "beef steak" > bifteck /biftɛk/

Re: Interesting Etymologies

Posted: 2016-01-01, 5:38
by linguoboy
A German example is Keks /ˈkeːks/, which despite being derived from English cakes now refers to sweet biscuits (AFAIK, always of a crispy sort, like shortbread or speculaas). It has an analogically-formed plural, Kekse.

Re: Interesting Etymologies

Posted: 2016-01-01, 6:06
by Koko
Dormouse559 wrote:I just remembered one I learned in high school. "beef steak" > bifteck /biftɛk/

Like Japanese ビフテキ /bifuteki/. I wouldn't be surprised if the Japanese word does indeed come from French, but to be fair ビフステキ sounds unnecessarily off.

Speaking of Japanese, ジーパン /d͡ʑiipaɴ/… for jeans. ?? I mean, I got the explanation of "jean pants," but where dat first n go? It's not like Japanese randomly just drops its nasals! And even if I get an explanation on the disappearance of that n, who says "jean pants" anyway? And how'd it find its way into the Japanese language instead of ジーンズ?*
Apparently it's wasei eigo :roll: That explains it :P

* Kay, maybe it exists alongside ジーンズ since that came up as a suggestion as soon as I got to ジーン〜