Tuesday, 2 September 2008

leprechaun and midriff

The Proto-Indo-European root *kʷrep- "body, form, appearance" became Latin corpus "body". This was borrowed into Old Irish as corp, which combined with "small" (from PIE *legʷh-) to form luchorpán. This became modern Irish Gaelic lupracán and was borrowed into English as leprechaun.

In Germanic, *kʷrep- became *hrefiz-, becoming Old English hrif "belly" (according to the AHD, Oxford says "of obscure origin"). This combined with mid to form midriff.

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