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 Etymology: Word Derivations and Meanings

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Ozymandias
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Ozymandias

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PostSubject: Etymology: Word Derivations and Meanings    Etymology: Word Derivations and Meanings  EmptySun 08 Jan 2012, 22:35

I thought it might be interesting to open a thread on this subject and prompted by a recent word I came across.

That word was ‘edify’ which the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) says is derived from the Latin aedificare, to build, and which itself is a conflation of the Latin aedis, a dwelling, and facere, to make. These are the roots of the words ‘edifice’ and ‘edification’. The interesting thing about it is that the modern meaning of the verb ‘edify’ has nothing to do with house building but relates to the moral and educational improvement of the person. In Irish we have the word éadaigh (pron. ‘aid-ig’) = ‘clothes’ and éidigh (same pron.) = ‘armour’, which may be related.
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: Etymology: Word Derivations and Meanings    Etymology: Word Derivations and Meanings  EmptyMon 09 Jan 2012, 10:00

It seems in later Latin it became a common usage for "building up character" as in the moral education of a person and thus found its way into English via French.

What is strange though is that "to edify" now only means that particular application of the verb, though as late as the 17th century it could obviously still be used to mean physical construction of buildings etc (I take it the inspiration for your post was the quote you cited in your other thread - "Kilcolman Castle had originally been destroyed in 1598 but was subsequently ‘re-edified’").

One does wonder why perfectly logical and usable words simply "drop out" of usage and are often replaced by less precise or otherwise inferior terms.
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Vizzer
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PostSubject: Re: Etymology: Word Derivations and Meanings    Etymology: Word Derivations and Meanings  EmptySat 13 Jul 2013, 21:50

The word 'egregious' has gone from meaning outstanding (in a positive sense) to meaning the opposite. The word itself derives from the Latin for 'out of the herd' - (i.e. 'ex grex') so technically its use as an adjective could be either positive or negative depending on the noun applied.
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Islanddawn
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PostSubject: Re: Etymology: Word Derivations and Meanings    Etymology: Word Derivations and Meanings  EmptyThu 07 Nov 2013, 04:49

Really interesting site, maps of Europe that show the origin and meanings of some common words used by the various countries. Or in other words, the influence of language

http://www.businessinsider.com/european-maps-showing-origins-of-common-words-2013-11
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PaulRyckier
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PostSubject: Re: Etymology: Word Derivations and Meanings    Etymology: Word Derivations and Meanings  EmptyThu 07 Nov 2013, 16:50

That's an interesting site Islanddawn.

Thanks for that.

Kind regards and with esteem,

Paul.
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: Etymology: Word Derivations and Meanings    Etymology: Word Derivations and Meanings  EmptyFri 08 Nov 2013, 09:23

Great map - very interesting stuff there. It's spoiled a little bit for me when I see "béar" as Irish for "bear" cited as displaying similar roots to its English cognate when I grew up with "urrán" as the Irish word and know that "béar" only really appeared during the 1970s - around the same time that the powers-that-be decided "gluaisteán" was too complicated for kids to learn as a word for "car" and suddenly "carr" became the Irish word too. "Urrán" of course shows a link back to "ursa", cognate with "arknos" (Gr.).

Interestingly, even when "urrán" was the word taught in schools we still had "bheithir" for a she-bear. It obviously can indeed be linked to the English cognate but why it ever ended up only to mean a female "urrán" is anyone's guess. To complicate things even further the only word we know that was used for "bear" before Latin was introduced into Gaelic was "mathghamháin", and where that might fit on the colour-coded map is also anyone's guess.
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LadyinRetirement
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PostSubject: Edit - mising question mark.   Etymology: Word Derivations and Meanings  EmptyTue 18 Feb 2020, 11:38

One of the online films I found about the expulsion of Germans from formerly German territories mentioned the word "flucht" which Google Translate gives as meaning "escape" in English.  Would "flight" as in the somewhat archaic biblical expression of "The Flight into Egypt" be from the same origin?  Also, does the saying "doing a midnight flit" - to leave one's lodgings clandestinely without paying the rent - have any relation to "flight" in this sense of the word?


Last edited by LadyinRetirement on Tue 18 Feb 2020, 12:13; edited 1 time in total
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: Etymology: Word Derivations and Meanings    Etymology: Word Derivations and Meanings  EmptyTue 18 Feb 2020, 12:01

English "flight" and German "flucht" do indeed come from the same Old German root "flug", though the extra notions of "speed" as well as "escape" arose mainly in English whereas the German expression is still closer to its original meaning related to how birds and insects fly, so still infers a meandering or seemingly aimless motion. With regard to refugees therefore it is a perfect word to imply a scattering of people forced to leave their homeland.

"Flit" is one of those English words that came in with the Norse settlers in the early medieval period. It is very similar in sense to the Old German "flug" (and probably shares a very old common root from PIE "pleu-" which implies "float") in that it suggests movement from place to place. In English it in fact originally meant literally only this when used about people - migration from one home to another, in the sense that we now say "move" when changing abode.
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LadyinRetirement
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PostSubject: Re: Etymology: Word Derivations and Meanings    Etymology: Word Derivations and Meanings  EmptyTue 18 Feb 2020, 12:11

I've moved this from the development of a language thread because I think this thread is more fitting.

Is the 'burde' in the medieval text linked http://wpwt.soton.ac.uk/harl2253/ichot/ichotext.htm  "Ichot a burde in bour bryght" from the same root as the modern usage of "me bird" for "my girlfriend" in slang sometimes?

Also, thank you nordmann for a swift response to my question about "flucht" and "flight".
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: Etymology: Word Derivations and Meanings    Etymology: Word Derivations and Meanings  EmptyTue 18 Feb 2020, 12:37

I don't agree with the Wessex Parallel Web Texts "translation" of that line at all. For "Ichot a burde in bour bryght" they posit "I know a noble lady", and they justify this by saying that "bour", in Middle English, could mean a private chamber in a rich dwelling, so they are free on that basis to interpret this as "noble". "Bour" would more comfortably equate with Modern English "bower", and while it may have been used as a euphemism for a bedroom in the past, its sense in Middle English was still more akin to its root in Saxon "burr", which is simply a secure place to rest. The -burgh ending in placenames, for example, comes from use of the very same term to denote defensive buildings erected for security. In fact in Germanic languages "burr" most often these days infers simply a "cage" - as it was also used to mean in Middle English (and I suspect in this poem too) - with an emphasis on the security it affords its occupant rather than the captivity aspect.

With this in mind then the poet's playful use of the expression "a bird in a cage" makes not only more sense, but also gives the reader a hint of the humour and verbal playfulness he employs throughout the rest of the poem. So yes, he did call the lady a "bird", but not as in modern slang. It was more innovative than that, and the avian allusion is simply part of the larger image in which the "cage" also featured.
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