Tuesday, 22 January 2008

precocious and apricot

Proto-Indo-European *pekʷ-, "to cook, ripen", in its assimilated form *kʷekʷ- became Latin coquō "to cook, ripen". Combined with prae "before, in front" it became praecox, praecocis "premature", that is, "ripening early". This was borrowed into English in the 1600s as precocious.

Meanwhile, praecox became the Latin word praecoquum "ripe early". This was borrowed into Greek as βερίκοκκον berikokkon and πραικόκιον praikokion, a word for the early-ripening apricot. This was borrowed into Arabic as برقوق barqūq "plum". Combined with the determiner prefix al gave البرقوق al-barqūq, and this was borrowed into Spanish and Portuguese as albaricoque and albricoque, and then borrowed into English in the 1500s as a word spelled abrecock or apricock. This became abricot thru dissimulation, and also by analogy with the French word, abricot. It finally changed to apricot perhaps thru folk etymology with the Latin in apricō coctus "ripened in a sunny place".


mahendra singh said...

I'm really enjoying your etymological fury at the world as you've found it. I operate a nearby blog and I have a humble request for a future posting: an etymological investigation into the word "snark".

I've got as far as the German verb schnarren, to jar or buzz, plus some swedish breadcrumbs and even a Polish proper name … but I'm sure there's more to this than meets the eye!

goofy said...

I'll look into it... what did you find to connect it with schnarren?

mahendra singh said...

Thanks for your interest in this Snark Hunt!

here's the online etymological link:

I linked schnarren to snark by simple wishful thinking! There's also a possible swedish cognate which I have completely forgotten. Additionally, I think Snark may be a Polish surname and/or place name.

It's been long debated how LC came up with the word, it may be a portmanteau of shark & snail, perhaps "flavored" by a (collective) unconscious germanic memory? Words are such sticky things, like flypaper. And the Snark poem is very dense with allusions, puns, logic games, etc. Any etymology is plausible with Lewis Carroll, he was quite "wordy"