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260491.  Thu Jan 17, 2008 11:38 am Reply with quote

On one program the origin of the word donkey was said to lie in the contraction of the Spanish 'Don Quixote'. The grounds stated were that the name replaced Ass some time after the publication of the book (1605). Is there any further, definitive information backing this stated etymology? According to Wikipedia there is no clear etymolgy and this connection is not (yet) mentioned there.

260543.  Thu Jan 17, 2008 12:22 pm Reply with quote

If I recall correctly, the show stated that etymology of "donkey" was unknown. This is entirely correct. I don't remember the Don Quixote bit, but it's extremely improbable to say the least.

There is evidence to show that "donkey" originally rhymed with "monkey". It's little more than circumstantial, but this has led etymologists to suggest that the word "donkey" has something to do with "dun" or perhaps the name "Duncan".

260554.  Thu Jan 17, 2008 12:32 pm Reply with quote

According to Etymonline, donkey first appeared in 1785, and the first English translation of Don Quixote was in 1620, so that's a very long time for there to have been no mention of it.

260576.  Thu Jan 17, 2008 12:57 pm Reply with quote

Dave, are you saying that we offered that as an etymology on QI? I don't recall doing so, but maybe you're referring to a different programme?

261599.  Sat Jan 19, 2008 7:48 am Reply with quote

I don't recall whether the etymology was offered as established, which is why I came on here to find out. With regards to the improbabilty which suze suggests, I agree, but then stranger things have happened.


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