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Old 2020-04-01, 21:20   #1
ewmayer
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Default "Interesting Word Origins" thread

This may be a nice gathering place for the amateur philologists and other cunning linguists hereabouts.

Interesting origins for 2 words which sound similar, but having very different origins, but both have lineages tracing back eventually to Arabic, and one further to Persian:

o arsenal |ˈärs(ə)-nl| noun
a collection of weapons and military equipment stored by a country, person, or group : Britain’s nuclear arsenal.
• a place where weapons and military equipment are stored or made.
• [in sing. ] figurative an array of resources available for a certain purpose : an arsenal of computers at our disposal.
ORIGIN early 16th cent. (denoting a dock for the construction and repair of ships): from French, or from obsolete Italian arzanale, based on Arabic dār-aṣ-ṣinā‛a, from dār ‘house’ + al- ‘(of) the’ + sinā‛a ‘art, industry’ (from ṣana‛a ‘make, fabricate’ ).

o arsenic |ˈärs(ə)nik| noun
the chemical element of atomic number 33, a brittle steel-gray metalloid. (Symbol: As)
Arsenic compounds (and their poisonous properties) have been known since ancient times, and the metallic form was isolated in the Middle Ages. Arsenic occurs naturally in orpiment, realgar, and other minerals, and rarely as the free element. Arsenic is used in semiconductors and some specialized alloys; its toxic compounds are widely used in wood preservation.
adjective ( arsenic) |ärˈsenik|
of or relating to arsenic.
• Chemistry of arsenic with a valence of five; of arsenic(V).
ORIGIN late Middle English (denoting yellow orpiment, arsenic sulfide): via Old French from Latin arsenicum, from Greek arsenikon ‘yellow orpiment,’ identified with arsenikos ‘male,’ but in fact from Arabic al-zarnī k ‘the orpiment,’ based on Persian zar ‘gold.’

Last fiddled with by ewmayer on 2020-04-01 at 22:28
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Old 2020-04-01, 21:37   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ewmayer View Post
o arsenal ...
Important example
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Old 2020-04-02, 06:41   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ewmayer View Post
This may be a nice gathering place for the amateur philologists and other cunning linguists hereabouts.

Interesting origins for 2 words which sound similar, but having very different origins, but both have lineages tracing back eventually to Arabic, and one further to Persian:

o arsenal |ˈärs(ə)-nl| noun
a collection of weapons and military equipment stored by a country, person, or group : Britain’s nuclear arsenal.
• a place where weapons and military equipment are stored or made.
• [in sing. ] figurative an array of resources available for a certain purpose : an arsenal of computers at our disposal.
ORIGIN early 16th cent. (denoting a dock for the construction and repair of ships): from French, or from obsolete Italian arzanale, based on Arabic dār-aṣ-ṣinā‛a, from dār ‘house’ + al- ‘(of) the’ + sinā‛a ‘art, industry’ (from ṣana‛a ‘make, fabricate’ ).

o arsenic |ˈärs(ə)nik| noun
the chemical element of atomic number 33, a brittle steel-gray metalloid. (Symbol: As)
Arsenic compounds (and their poisonous properties) have been known since ancient times, and the metallic form was isolated in the Middle Ages. Arsenic occurs naturally in orpiment, realgar, and other minerals, and rarely as the free element. Arsenic is used in semiconductors and some specialized alloys; its toxic compounds are widely used in wood preservation.
adjective ( arsenic) |ärˈsenik|
of or relating to arsenic.
• Chemistry of arsenic with a valence of five; of arsenic(V).
ORIGIN late Middle English (denoting yellow orpiment, arsenic sulfide): via Old French from Latin arsenicum, from Greek arsenikon ‘yellow orpiment,’ identified with arsenikos ‘male,’ but in fact from Arabic al-zarnī k ‘the orpiment,’ based on Persian zar ‘gold.’
There is at least one more in that list. Perhaps you omitted it because Americans don't roll their "r"'s.

Common British saying in the "She was only the <foo>'s daughter but she <bar>" series is "She was only the footballer's daughter but she liked her Huddersfield and her Arsenal."

Last fiddled with by xilman on 2020-04-02 at 06:43
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Old 2020-04-08, 21:53   #4
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Wend

In English, the past tense of the verb "to go" is borrowed from this word: "went".
In Dutch, the original word is still used in sailing: "Klaar om te wenden" means "Stand by to go about" (or, for landlubbers, "DUCK!")
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Old 2020-04-08, 22:22   #5
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Wend

In English, the past tense of the verb "to go" is borrowed from this word: "went".
In Dutch, the original word is still used in sailing: "Klaar om te wenden" means "Stand by to go about" (or, for landlubbers, "DUCK!")
The germanic/dutch origin word "wend" is closely related to "wind" (not as in "sail close to the wind", which word is, per my dictionary, "from an Indo-European root shared by Latin ventus", but rather as in "to wind a watch"), and e.g. the German "wenden" means "to wind" or "to turn" - example, "solstice" in german is "Sonnenwende", when the approximate sine curve describing hours of daylight over the course of the year turns upward or downward.

(This natural example is a good way to teach kids about sines, cosines, maxima/minima and inflection points - for the hours-of-daylight curve, f'(x) = 0 at the 2 annual solstices and f''(x) = 0 at the equinoxes.)
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Old 2020-08-18, 19:23   #6
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Just discovered that 'niece' and 'nephew' have the same root as 'nepotism'.
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Old 2020-08-19, 08:20   #7
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That's interesting! In German, we have for that "Vetternwirtschaft". "Vetter" means cousin in a more rural language. "Wirtschaft" means economy. Normally, we would use "Cousin" and "Cousine" for a male/female cousin.
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Old 2020-08-19, 12:23   #8
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Originally Posted by kruoli View Post
That's interesting! In German, we have for that "Vetternwirtschaft". "Vetter" means cousin in a more rural language. "Wirtschaft" means economy. Normally, we would use "Cousin" and "Cousine" for a male/female cousin.
I remember Wirtschaft used with a different meaning by a native German speaker at a summer job I had back in the day. At the end of the day, as we lined up to punch out, he would say, "Die Wirtschaft is geschlossen." (The restaurant is closed.)

Speaking of different meanings...

The word tow has two entirely different meanings.

It is a commonly used verb, meaning to pull or drag, also used as a noun to mean an act or instance of towing.

But tow is also a noun meaning coarse, broken fibers of flax or hemp removed during processing. Flax tows are used for upholstery stuffing. Their color is a very pale yellow, which is referenced in the noun towhead (adjective towheaded), someone with very pale blond, nearly white hair.
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Old 2020-08-19, 12:52   #9
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Originally Posted by Dr Sardonicus View Post
"Die Wirtschaft is geschlossen."
That's a traditional variant I like but often forget about. You'd rather hear "Kneipe" or "Lokal", "Gaststätte" or "Bar", if a younger person is talking. "Restaurant" is for a more formal place, but "Wirtschaft" can mean this, too.
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Old 2020-08-19, 14:01   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kruoli View Post
That's a traditional variant I like but often forget about. You'd rather hear "Kneipe" or "Lokal", "Gaststätte" or "Bar", if a younger person is talking. "Restaurant" is for a more formal place, but "Wirtschaft" can mean this, too.
Yes, the origin of colloquial words is often more interesting.
In Dutch, we might refer informally to such an establishment as a "tent".
In English, I guess "joint" - or is that now old-fashioned, or regional?
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Old 2020-08-19, 14:48   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick View Post
Yes, the origin of colloquial words is often more interesting.
In Dutch, we might refer informally to such an establishment as a "tent".
In English, I guess "joint" - or is that now old-fashioned, or regional?
A bit of rummaging around on line turned up Gastwirtschaft as meaning inn or pub; the "Gast" is sometimes dropped, and -- voilà -- Wirtschaft!

This sort of abbreviating is fairly common in American English. An example is a term for a cheap cigar, not tapered at either end, stogie. (A synonym is cheroot.)

The term comes from the name of a place where such cigars were manufactured -- Conestoga, Pennsylvania. The same place was also known for producing a distinctive type of wagon.

The term joint has a number of colloquial meanings. Its usage for an eating/drinking establishment is somewhat old-fashioned. It usually has the connotation of the establishment being freewheeling or disreputable. In the 1940 W.C. Fields movie The Bank Dick, for example, his character Egbert Sousé has taken the bank examiner J. Pinkerton Snoopington, to the Black Pussy Cat Cafe. Snoopington, concerned about being seen there, asks if he can pull the shade. Sousé assures him, "You can pull anything you want. The place is a regular joint."

There is also a song, written by Chuck Berry in 1958, entitled "Around and Around," which first appeared as the "B" side to "Johnny B. Goode." It has since been covered by the Grateful Dead and the Rolling Stones. It begins, "Well, the joint was jumping..."

The term "The Joint" means prison, and "a joint" means a marijuana cigarette.

The term "the joint" also is used generically to mean the target of an intended theft or robbery. Would-be thieves or robbers trying to determine the vulnerabilities of their target is referred to as "casing the joint."

Last fiddled with by Dr Sardonicus on 2020-08-19 at 14:51 Reason: gixnif topsy
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