Sunday, 17 July 2022

Synonym Etymologies Q

Continuing the look at synonyms through the eyes of the etymologist, this time it is the letter Q and quiet. Coming to English from Old French quiete, itself from Latin quies, and Proto-Indo-European kweie and all with the same meaning as the modern word.

Silent is from the Latin silentem>, but both originally meant 'still, calm, quiet', and not used in the sense of 'without a sound' until around 1580.

Hush is first seen as Middle English huisht with the same meaning. Difficult to know just how this word developed, if it could indeed be considered a word in earliest times, for it seems to have developed as being the sound most easily produced with a minimum of effort. Interesting to note the original hush-puppy is found in 1899 and was a deep fried ball of cornmeal batter.

Mute is from Old French muet 'dumb, mute' and from Latin mutus with the same meaning and related to Greek myein 'to be shut' (as on the mouth).

Dumb is from Proto-Germanic dumbaz 'dumb, dull' and ultimately from Proto-Indo-European dheu 'dust, mist, vapour, smoke'. Note the final 'b' has probably been silent since the 13th century.

Low has been used in this sense since around 1300, it comes from the Proto-Indo-European root legh 'to lie down'.

Muffle in the sense of deadening sound is first recorded in 1761, probably because it referred to muffling the sound of oars using a similar material to that used in the Old French moufle 'thick glove, mitten'.

Faint is used in the sense of 'weak', and comes from the Proto-Indo-European dheigh 'to form, build'.

Confidential is from 'confidence', where the prefix com- precedes the Lain fidere 'to trust', itself from Proto-Indo-European bheidh 'to trust'.

Secret takes two Latin elements: se 'without, apart' and cernere 'to separate' - thus not to tell or impart.

Discreet is very similar to 'secret', with dis 'off, away' preceding cernere.

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