Questions tagged [etymology]

Linguistic science describing origins of particular words.

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How and when did the surname “Apibus” become “de Apapis”?

The Maltese surname Apap derives from "De Apapis", and the family crest features bees. Family lore tells that the surname originates from a person who kept bees. In Latin, Apis is bee, and the most ...
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What was the flower of Empress Taytu?

Addis Ababa is the capital of Ethiopia. Its name means "New Flower" in Amharic (አዲስ አበባ), and the tale of how it got its name is told thus: The location of Addis Ababa was chosen by the Empress ...
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What is the etymological origin of the Marsi, the ancient Italic people?

The English Wikipedia article does not provide any etymological explanations on the demonym. The Italian article, which is marked as "recommended", points the name's origin to the Italic deity Mamerte,...
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How and when did the Tarim River / Basin get its name?

I recently posted a question on Linguistics:SE asking for a proper etymology of the name "Tarim" as in "Tarim Basin", as well as the name's possible connection with Tocharian (Please see the ...
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What “exactly” is the difference between “Clan” and “Family”? [closed]

The reason why I ask this question, is, because there are many non Japanese who would like to say ( For example ) Takeda Clan, instead of Takeda Family. We Japanese do not hold a huge meeting like ...
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Was the ancient Pontic city of Athenai (Ἀθῆναι) related to Athens?

The city of Athenai (Ἀθῆναι, modern Pazar, Turkey), in some contexts referred to as Pontic Athens, situated on the Pontic shore about halfway between Trapezus (modern Trabzon, Turkey) and Bathys Limen ...
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What is the origin of the name Fallopian tubes?

I read that the Fallopian tubes were described by the Italian anatomist Gabrielle Fallopio, somewhere in the 16th century. The Wikipedia describes that the structure reminded the musical instrument, ...
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565 views

Was California named after a Moorish ruler called Queen Calafia?

I found this excerpt from an article on an Afrocentric website. The claims seem laughable to say the least. But I want the to find out what serious scholarship say on this issue. The article is below. ...
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What is a “barso”? (ref. Richard Cocks' diaries)

Question In his diaries documenting his time in Japan, Richard Cocks mentions barsos frequently, apparently meaning some kind of liquid containing vessel (mostly in reference to [gifts of] alcohol, ...
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583 views

What does the Vietnamese name “Nguyen” actually mean?

In 13th century Vietnam someone overthrew the Ly dynasty and forced all the members of that family and its nobles to change their name to Nguyen. When that dynasty was overthrown, its supporters ...
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Why was the new world named America?

Christopher Columbus is widely credited with discovering the new world in 1492 as the leader of an expedition which included 3 ships financed by the kingdom of Spain. Columbus was a seasoned sailor, ...
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When did the word “Holodomor” appear?

Holodomor (Голодомор) is a part of the Soviet famine of 1932–33. The events in Ukraine were called "Holodomor", but when did the word appear? Google Books Ngram Viewer shows no mentions of Holodomor ...
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Why was Ormond Castle in Scotland so called?

There was a castle in Scotland known as Ormond Castle which had existed since at least the beginning of the 13th century. It sat upon Ormond hill in the Black Isle. Why was it called Ormond Castle? ...
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What is the etymology of the word “slave”? [closed]

What is the etymology of the word "slave"? I have been studying Russian history for some time and I am connecting it with the Slavs.
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Novgorod means “New city”. Given such name, what were the old cities in the region? [closed]

"Novgorod" means "New city". Given such name, what were the old cities in the region at the time of its foundation?
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History of the Garani village in FYROM

I'm interested in the origins of the Garani (Гарани, Garana) village located in the west of the former Yugoslav Republic Of Macedonia (FYROM). What is the origin/etymology of the name? When do we ...
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How quickly did the term “nuclear fission” spread?

In The Nuclear Express by Thomas C. Reed and Danny B. Stillman, they explain that the term "nuclear fission" was first used in Physics by Lisa Meitner in a letter to Otto Hahn on December 19, 1938. ...
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Why was “Belgium” Anglicized as such? [closed]

The country of Belgium derives its name from Gallia Belgica, the Roman province. This led to "België" in Dutch, "Belgique" in French, and "Belgium" in English. Why was the Latin word Anglicized this ...
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181 views

Does written language change language more than oral tradition? [closed]

I'm not sure if this is a right forum, but I didn't find better from SE. I wonder if it is researched how much development of writing systems affects to language compared to languages that are not ...
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When was Susa first mentioned in written documents?

"Susa was a principal city of the Elamite, Persian and Parthian empires (capital of the Elamites) and was originally known to the Elamites as 'Susan’ or 'Susun’. The Greek name for the city was Sousa ...
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How did the French word 'familier' become associated with the concept of Magical Familiars, historically?

How did the word 'familier' (French) become associated with the concept of Magical Familiars, historically? Or do we not know? Proof for the concept being from French, first.
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When was the “New Kingdom” of Egypt first called that?

When was the New Kingdom of Egypt (c. 1550BC to 1077BC) first called "New Kingdom" (or something cognate)?
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What was World War 1 called before World War 2? [closed]

Today it seems common to refer to both World Wars with the terms "World War 1" and "World War 2" pretty much everywhere. (in the respective translation of course) But I recently realized that this ...
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Latin/Greek for assassin

As far as I am aware, assassin comes from the Arabic حشاشين‎ (Ḥashshāshīn). Clearly, the concept of murdering someone for either political or religious reasons was not invented by the Ḥashshāshīn. So,...
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How did the “Standard Model” physics theory get that name?

I want to know how the Standard Model theory got such "generic" name. (I've made this question in Physics StackExchange, but it was considered off-topic, and someone suggested to reask it here.)
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Where and why were capital letters first used in English headlines?

The words in headlines are capitalized. I'm interested in the history of this. Where and why were capital letters first used in headlines? Where is this practice of capitalization of words in English ...
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Are there any good sources on the history of the name for Kazakhstan?

I'm having a very hard time finding sources on the history of Kazakhstan's name changes. My query began when I read this quote: Have you ever wished you could change your name? In 1995, the people ...
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'Sub rosa' council meetings

Wiktionary's etymology of the term sub rosa reads: The rose's connotation for secrecy dates back to Greek mythology. Aphrodite gave a rose to her son Eros, the god of love; he, in turn, gave it to ...
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When was “diablo” first used to refer to the Devil?

I'd curious to know how and when the word diablo came to mean the Devil. In Luc Ferry's A Brief History of Thought, he states: The devil is rather one who, spiritually speaking, does everything in ...
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Who first coined the name “Wahhabi”?

Specifically, did Muslims coin it or non-Muslims? Is there any evidence, recorded in history, about the first usage of this term?
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416 views

What lands have been called by names chosen to disassociate those lands from its inhabitants

Historically, the name "Persia" has been applied to southern Asia to disassociate that land from the people who inhabit it, who called themselves Aran. Similarly, the name "Palestine" has been applied ...
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What is the history of the “root” user in Unix computing? [closed]

It might be more relevant to the audiences of StackOverflow, ServerFault, or Programmers, but none of their FAQs covered this type of question. What is the origin of the "root" user in Unix-like ...
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What is the etymology of Haiti's name? [closed]

A long time ago someone told me a story which is very unclear. They said that Haiti got the name from the American Civil War after the slave trade when the slaves occupied the country it was or ...
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What is the basis for the claims that the word “Israel” means “Exiled for their sins”?

Joseph Davidovits claims that the word "iisii-r-iar", "ysrỉar" or however you want to transcribe it, which appears on the Merneptah Stele, is an Egyptian phrase meaning "those who are exiled for their ...