Sunday, 10 April 2022

Synonym Etymologies C

Continuing the look at synonyms through the eyes of the etymologist, this time it is the letter C for Cry as in weep.

Cry was originally used to mean 'to utter loudly' and the use of 'cry' as in 'weep' is derived from that. Hence the etymology is the same, but aside from the Spanish cridar, Portuguese gritar and Latin quiritare, all have the same meaning of 'wail, shriek', the source is unknown. What is known, and quite astonishing, is to find that nobody 'cried' before 1852, other synonyms were used, some of which follow.

Weep is a Germanic word and has always meant the same as it does today, it is derived from Proto-Indo-European wab with exactly the same meaning.

Tear can be traced back to the Proto-Indo-European dakru, which was not only used to refer to teardrops, but any liquid drops.

Howl, again, likens tears to crying out loud, and has exactly the same origin as 'owl', both of which are imitative of the whatever they are describing - effectively the phonetic spelling of the sound has become the word.

Bawl comes from the Old Norse baula meaning 'to low like a cow'. A reasonable description I would think.

Snivel is from the Old English snyflan and describes 'the running of the nose', this also linked to tears.

Whimper is another Germanic word of imitative origins.

Sob, held to be crying with short breaths, is first used in Old English to mean 'lament', and is derived from a Germanic root meaning 'to suck'.

Wail is derived from the same source as 'woe' and from Old Norse vaela 'lament'.

Skrike is a word I have only ever heard two people use - my mother and my grandmother. I assumed it was another of my grandmother's odd Black Country expressions - she inspired both my Old Wives Tales and Odd Words and Sayings both of which feature her image on the cover - and yet I find it is known as a regional expression which are usually used to refer to the cry of the crow, thus another imitative word.

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