Interesting English etymologies

Here are some word origins (or lack thereof) that I find strangely fascinating. There are lots more on the web, eg at,
adder, apron, auger, orange, umpire All formed by "metanalysis", stripping initial n from original word by redivision of indefinite article: a napron -> an apron, etc.
apron came from French nape, from Latin mappa
auger came from Old English nafu gar; (nafu (center) gave us navel, gar meant to pierce)
orange came from Sanskrit narangah via Persian and Arabic. The initial "n", which survives in Spanish naranja, was lost in French, perhaps through the influence of the trading city named "Orange".
umpire came from Old French nonper (non-peer)
big Surprisingly for such a basic word, origin unknown.
canary (n)
Canary Islands
from Latin canis (dog). The Canary Islands were named "dog islands" in Latin because of their wild dog population, and the bird was then named after the islands.
cherry,currant,pea All backformed by misinterpretation of a noun ending in an "s" sound as a plural. Old French cherise and Old English pise (from Greek pison) were the original singular forms. The now archaic term pease pudding preserves the original form. Currants were raisins from Corinth, Middle English raisins of coraunce, shortened to coraunce.
dog Surprisingly, origin unknown. Other IndoEuropean languages have words like hund (-> hound) or chien, but in Old English dogca appeared from nowhere and displaced hund. Spanish perro is similarly unaccounted for.
endeavour (n) Not directly from French or Latin, but a Middle English phrase put in dever, partial translation of Old French mettre en deveir, meaning to put in duty, ie take on responsibility.
feisty (adj) From American dialect feist "small dog", from fysting curre ("stinking cur"), from Middle English fysten ("break wind"), Old English fisting "stink".
glamour, grammar (nouns) Both from Greek grammatike (art of letters), but in 18th century Scottish the form glamour appeared, and then developed from the connotation of "esoteric art" to its current meaning.
gull (n), seabird Welsh gwylan, from Old Celtic *voilenno. One of the few English words of Celtic origin. Did the invading Anglo-Saxons, who swept the Celts aside so completely, and came from the gull-infested North sea coast of continental Europe, not have their own word?
A more understandable case is bard, from Welsh bardd, Old Celtic *bardos, which may well have been new to the Anglo Saxons.
ketchup (n) From Chinese, amazingly enough.
punch (n), mixed drink;
punch is from Hindi for "five" (five ingredients), related to IndoEuropean pent-, as in pentagon, pentathlon, and Pentecost (fiftieth day after second day of passover).
salt cellar Duplication. cellar came from Old French salier (salt box) from the Latin root sal (salt) that gives us salary, salad, sauce, sausage.
salient (adj) prominent, jutting Not from Latin sal (salt), but salire (to jump)
sly (adj)
sleight (n)
slay (v)
Semantic drift: originally from Old Norse sla (to strike), which through the sense of "able to strike" led to Old Norse sloegr (cunning). Modern English slay is supposedly descended from the original root.
Stanley, Stan, male name An anomalous evader of the Old->Middle->Modern English vowel shift that took most long 'a' sounds to long 'o' and then a dipthong. Thus modern so was originally /swaa/, bone was originally /baan/, and stone was originally /staan/. The name Stanley meant "stony field", but was preserved from the vowel shift that would have given us the modern form *Stonely, perhaps by its association with Derbyshire, where northern speech patterns resisted the vowel shift. Place names ending in -ham similarly preserve the old pronunciation of home.
stile (n) steps built into a fence;
stirrup (n)
Both come from Old English stigan (to climb), related to Modern German steigen. stirrup was a stig-rap (climbing rope).
stork (n) bird, bringer of babies From Germanic storch (stick), a word also recorded as a term for penis.
surd (n,adj), irrational, some root of an integer Cumulative translation error: a two-thousand-year game of "telephone" or "chinese whispers" between languages. Greek alogos (irrational, speechless) translated to Arabic jadr asamm (deaf root) translated to Latin surdus (deaf)
tawdry (adj) Supposedly from Etheldrida, queen of Northumbria, who loved fine neck laces, and died of a neck tumor in 679 AD. She became patron saint of Ely, and her name was contracted to St. Audrey. In the middle ages "St. Audrey's fairs" were held in her memory, at which were sold lace neckties called "Saint Audrey's lace", which became "tawdrie lace", from which "tawdry" became a 17 century term for "cheap and gaudy".
treacle (n) More semantic drift: from Greek theriake (antidote to venom), from Greek therion (wild animal).

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