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Final Paper (due May 17): final paper information

Some extra chapter from Durkin’s Oxford Guide to Etymology:

1) Durkin Chapter 5 Lexical Borrowing

2) Durkin Chapter 6 Mechanisms of Borrowing

3) Durkin Chapter 8 Semantic Change


Project Information (due March 20):

The Secret Lives of Words Project: Word histories, mysteries, and etymologies

****You can find Durkin’s glossary under alia.


Sample Etymologies: Some etymologies are more complicated than others. Below you will find one more complicated etymology, and one that is more transparent. Keep in mind that I do not expect you to be an expert in or even possess knowledge of Proto-Germanic, Greek, Latin, Old English, or any language! But you do have to be persistent and spend some time reading through a paragraph which may seem short, but is in fact densely packed with all sorts of fun tidbits. Keep in mind that a link to a list of abbreviations from the online edition of the OED can be found under ‘alia’ on the course website.

Also, please remember to choose words that interest you! Don’t choose a word just to do the assignment–choose a word that you’re curious about or that you’ve encountered in our other course work.

Etymology of ‘owl’

Owls are one of my favorite animals, and I always found the word to be a strange one, so I decided to look up its etymology. It turns out that for such a short word, it has a very complicated etymology. According to the OED, it is a cognate for: Middle Dutch ule/hule, Old Saxon uuuila, Old High German uwila/huwela, Old Icelandic ugla, Old Swedish uggla, and Danish ugle. These all come from a Germanic base that is meant to imitate the sound an owl makes. This can all be traced back to the Latin for owl, ulula. Although the etymology entry in the OED is very long and looks complex, in essence, owl is an onomatopoeia that was simplified and adapted over the years through several different Germanic languages by way of Latin.

Etymology of ‘adore’

I chose this word because the different meanings of the root words, and the meanings they revealed in the English word adore, really intrigued me. I found myself wondering what meaning, or combination of meanings, I assume when I use this word. Adore comes from Latin adorare, which means to plead with, entreat, worship, reverence, or salute. The Latin word came from the prefix ad, which means motion to or against, reaching, or attention, and orare, which is Latin for to speak or pray. Orare came from the same Indo-European root as the ancient Greek word ara, meaning prayer or curse.

Etymology of ‘pheromone’

Pheromones originate from the Greek root “pherein,” which means to carry or bear, as well as the present participle of the Greek word “horman,” which means to set in motion. “Horman” is also the root of the English word “hormone.” Hormones are biological compounds that are released in the bloodstream to regulate a specific physiological activity. Because pheromones are chemicals that are released through an animal into the environment, they tend to elicit social responses – the most commonly known pheromone being one that promotes sexual interaction. The root meaning “to bear” illustrates that the word was once (and probably still is) related to an animal physically bearing this scent – it is an extension of being. The root “horman” relates back to the biological purpose of hormones. Hormones literally set in motion different physiological processes including, promoting or inhibiting growth, inducing or suppressing regulated cell death, and (yes) inducing sexual arousal. The connective  -o- between the roots originates from the nominal form of typical classical roots. Many ended in the ‘o’ sound, lending to an easy combination of multiple words.