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etymology of the word "dog"

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Gyndawyr
591979.  Wed Jul 29, 2009 11:32 pm Reply with quote

Where does "pussy" come from?
No srsly.
Im not bothered to where "cat" comes from. Why "pussy-cat??"
Hold on, do I want to know how that came about? :S

Ohh well, Im sure Posital can explain :)

 
Posital
591985.  Thu Jul 30, 2009 1:35 am Reply with quote

I'm sorry to disappoint... :-(

 
suze
592376.  Thu Jul 30, 2009 3:18 pm Reply with quote

A "pussy" was a pet name for a rabbit before it was a pet name for a cat, although only by eleven years (first citations known to the OED are 1715 and 1726). The precise etymology is unknown, but it goes back to the sixteenth century and possibly a lot earlier, and seems to be onomatopeic.

See post 76526 and post 76669 for discussion of "pussy" meaning "vagina", and post 81624 for "punani".

 
Jenny
593051.  Fri Jul 31, 2009 10:53 am Reply with quote

All we need to do now is discover an etymological connection between pussy and beaver and all will be made clear.

 
Hans Mof
593071.  Fri Jul 31, 2009 11:48 am Reply with quote

Jenny wrote:
All we need to do now is discover an etymological connection between pussy and beaver and all will be made clear.


Small animals that can easily be turned into purses or, to stick with double entendres, into muffs.

 
DaveA
607339.  Wed Sep 02, 2009 9:51 pm Reply with quote

I have a theory on this which I posted elsewhere last year:

In Tudor times it was common for kitchens to have different ways of turning meat over a fire. The spit boy was the lowliest job and the task commonly got given to a corgi-like canine in a wheel for smaller joints. The wheel was called a turnspit or a dogwheel.
see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turnspit_Dog

I am suggesting that the term 'dogwheel' could have led to the animal being called a dog, not the other way around as tends to be assumed. ie. The term 'dogwheel' could have meant a wheel for turning a dog, or old English 'dag', another word for a spit. We still use the term Dogwood for certain members of the Cornus family of shrub, which was named for it's straight stems ideal for skewering meat to cook over a fire.

By the time of the first book on 'dogges' (by John Caius in 1570 - pre-dating the authoratative dictionary and standardisation of spelling) the term was already established, but the author and contemporaries still used various terms: dogge, hound, cur...
See: http://www.thebookofdays.com/months/april/8.htm

Interestingly, there was a breed used in the dogwheel called a Turnspit, the term which also applied to the wheel itself. The spit turner, the dag/dog turner. This breed was known by it's job so why not other similar breeds that were thus employed?

 
thegrandwazoo
612739.  Mon Sep 14, 2009 8:26 am Reply with quote

You might have hit on something there DaveA. A dog in engineering terms is a thing which connects with another either to transfer motion or prevent motion. However Wiki thinks the term might come from a dog(hound) biting hold of something. If the term could be shown to predate or be contemporaneous with the first use of dog for a hound then maybe the answer is there.( where are our linguist when you need them?)

 
suze
612764.  Mon Sep 14, 2009 10:12 am Reply with quote

You'd need an etymologist rather than a phoneticist for that one!

As was stated on QI, and becomes ever clear if you read right through this thread, we really don't know the origin of the word dog. It seems improbable that we'll ever have enough evidence to decide that one of the theories which does the rounds is uniquely correct.

That the word for the animal comes from the engineering term seems to me unlikely, but I don't say it's impossible. And that's part of the problem - we have any number of etymologies for dog which are unlikely but not impossible.

 
mcruic
663364.  Fri Jan 29, 2010 12:46 am Reply with quote

I haven't really researched this in too much detail, I just stumbled upon this question when looking for something else, as so often happens on the internet.

Wikipedia has a possible etymology derived from a diminutive of docca 'muscle'. (docga being this apparent diminutive form). This would correlate nicely with the use of the word 'docga' to refer only to the specific well-muscled powerful breeds.

A parallel use of this 'docca'-derivation would be in the verb 'dock' which came into use in the 14th century, meaning to shorten or amputate the tail of an animal. It was thought wrongly that this helped prevent rabies (by the Romans), but in England at the later time in question, it was thought to improve the dog's performance/hygiene and there was a later development (admittedly at the beginning of the 18th Century) whereby undocked dogs (i.e. those with full tails) were liable for tax, so popularising docking as a tax evasion technique. Is it possible that docking was so commonplace in the 14th-16th century period that the technique somehow began to be synonymous with the animal? This wouldn't explain why the word "hund" was shunted out though. I don't have any theories that immediately spring to mind, not serious ones anwyay, but I do have a (far-fetched?) suggestion....

One that I thought of was that somehow 'dog' gained popularity as a polite form of 'hund', which was becoming too similar to another word which was the subject of much disdain in the 14th and 15th centuries - 'cunt'. With word-final obstruent devoicing in 'hund' and possible slight fricativisation of the 'c' in 'cunt' (-la-Scouse), is it possible that these two words became so uncomfortably close in sound as to warrant a change to the previously rare 'dog'?

Perhaps not, but there is a pussy precedent in that use of the slang term 'cunny' forced a sound shift in the word for rabbit, 'coney' (rhymed with 'honey', changed to rhyme with 'bony'), before this word eventually met its demise altogether due in no small part to the persistent sexual connotations.

 
AlmondFacialBar
663636.  Fri Jan 29, 2010 2:54 pm Reply with quote

to me the dogca version sounds somewhat plausible because german uses the word "dogge" to describe breeds of the mastiff type. guess that's just anecdotal evidence, though... ;-)

:-)

AlmondFacialBar

 
mcruic
664125.  Sat Jan 30, 2010 8:57 pm Reply with quote

AlmondFacialBar wrote:
to me the dogca version sounds somewhat plausible because german uses the word "dogge" to describe breeds of the mastiff type. guess that's just anecdotal evidence, though... ;-)

:-)

AlmondFacialBar


There doesn't appear to be a debate that docga (not dogca) is where the word 'dog' came from. The debate is where the word docga came from, and why it came to supplant 'hund'.

 
aewzzz1
684224.  Wed Mar 17, 2010 4:23 pm Reply with quote

torongo wrote:
Okay. My Middle English books say the Middle English term is "dogge," which comes from the OE "docga." This would seem to imply that the general usage Anglo-Saxon word for such an animal was thus "docga." I am not sure of where this reference comes from, whether it is a single reference, or whether it came from c. 1050 or not.

However, I still do not feel that this word (dog) is the etymological mystery as reported on QI. There are lots of Moderen English words that have an AS root. But where do any AS/OE words come from? Are they all accounted for?

Sure, we have "hound." This is similar to the Dutch (hond) or German (hund). Obviously, the French (chien) never caught on, Normans or not.

The German word for Horse is "Pferd." The Dutch word is "Paard." The French word is "cheval." None of these seem to have anything to do with the English "horse." which apparently comes from the AS "hors." Does that make the word "horse" an etymological mystery as well?


Das Pferd has an English cognate word 'Palfrey' - see http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=palfrey for details.
Das Ro ( Hross ) has an English cognate word 'Horse' although the first letter H has been dropped, which also occurs with German words originally beginning 'Wr' such as 'ringen' to wring. The word 'horse' may be related to latin derived word 'courser' ( currere to run). The French word 'chien' is akin to the words 'canine' and 'cub'.

If the word 'dog' comes from 'dukkon' http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/docga then it is related to the word 'doughty' meaning bold, valiant ( Gothic daug - suitable, useful and Old English 'dugan' - to be valiant ) also 'dogged' - stubborn, unyielding. Just as one might, perhaps, call ones dog 'Fido' so one might also call it 'Dougie' (See Douglas) or even my doggy!

 
Alces
729675.  Sat Jul 24, 2010 2:51 pm Reply with quote

Quote:
The IE /swnd/ (how it was pronounced, we just have no way of knowing) has become /sag/ in Persian, /hund/ in German, and /hound/ in English. As for the phonetic relationship between /s/ and /h/, we have linguistic evidence in the Sanskrit (Indian) /asura/ 'demon' for the Persian development of the word as /ahura/ 'god' (pronounced [a.hoo.ra]), as in the Zoroastrian Ahura Mazdā 'the wise lord; i.e., God'. And many other words in the different members of the IE family.


/swnd/ is pretty easy to prounce, just make the /n/ syllabic. But this isn't an actual PIE word as far as I know. The PIE root was *ḱwōn (pronounced approximately like 'quone', IPA /kʲwoːn/) which became Latin 'canis', Sanskrit 'svan', Old English 'hund'. The shift of /kʲ/ to /s/ is a well-known one (it famously happened in late Latin meaning <c> in them can stand for /k/ or /s/. Meanwhile, Germanic merged /kʲ/ into /k/, and then fricativised all of its stops, meaning /k/ became IPA /x/. (The same thing happens to non-initial /k/ in Scouse.) This /x/ became /h/ in English. So the 'h' in 'hound' doesn't actually go back to 's', it goes back to 'k'.

Quote:
It is also very possible (and I can look for it further) that the word /dog/ and Persian /sag/ are also related. I am going to have to make sure that phonetically /s/ can become /d/ (I need some etymological evidence). I shall get back to you on that.


I doubt it. /s/ is quite different from /d/; it's alveolar, not dental, a fricative, not a stop, and voiceless, not voiced.

Quote:
One that I thought of was that somehow 'dog' gained popularity as a polite form of 'hund', which was becoming too similar to another word which was the subject of much disdain in the 14th and 15th centuries - 'cunt'. With word-final obstruent devoicing in 'hund' and possible slight fricativisation of the 'c' in 'cunt' (-la-Scouse), is it possible that these two words became so uncomfortably close in sound as to warrant a change to the previously rare 'dog'?


But 'hund' had a different vowel from 'cunt' -- long instead of short, which is why we now pronounce it 'hound'. Plus, it's implausible that only 'cunt' would fricativise--sound changes usually happen regularly given certain conditions. And final obstruent devoicing, while happening in the continental Germanic languages, never happened in English.

It's a plausible idea, but the words wouldn't have sounded similar enough.

---

'Dog' is quite a mystery. I had a thought that it might come it becoming taboo to call a dog by its real name 'hound', like how 'hors' replaced 'eoh' in Old English, but it wouldn't really fit with the culture in 1500, and we still use 'hound' in a limited sense.

The theory that it comes from togian 'to drag' is plausible, but without good evidence we'll probably never know.

 
Spud McLaren
729690.  Sat Jul 24, 2010 3:41 pm Reply with quote

Dogs are stops inserted into holes on a bench or anvil to wedge work against or between, as well as apparatus for holding or gripping something, AND the uses outlined by DaveA and thegrandwazoo. I've tried (without success, as I'm not used to conducting this type of search) to find the earliest known use of the word "dog" in this context, and where it came from. Anyone?

 
monzac
729738.  Sat Jul 24, 2010 10:49 pm Reply with quote

G'day Alces, welcome to the forums.

 

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