Friday, 19 September 2008

pal and bully

pal is another word borrowed from Romani: phral "brother, mate", related to Sanksrit भ्रातृ bhrātṛ "brother". The Proto-Indo-European root is *bʰrāter- "brother".

*bʰrāter became English brother, Latin frāter. And also Dutch broeder, which was altered to boel "lover (of either sex); brother". This is a possible source of bully according to both the AHD and the OED. The earliest meaning of bully was "sweetheart, darling".


PhoeniX said...

My native language is Dutch, but never in my life have I heard the word 'Boel' used in such a way. 'Ik heb een hele boel dingen om te doen'

would mean 'I have a lot of things to do'.

But, my dictionary of improper language mentions the words: Boeler 'Homosexual man' possibly from Middle Dutch 'boel'. This does indeed seem to come from Broer (broeder is a rather archaic version of the word, exclusively referring to brothers of the clergy). How exactly a shift from broer > boel was established, I don't know. broer > dissimilation broel > loss of r boel? Not something that is very likely, but my etymological dictionary says it's so, not sure what they're basing it on.

goofy said...

fwiw the OED says:

Etymology obscure: possibly ad. Du. boel ‘lover (of either sex)’, also ‘brother’ (Verwijs & Verdam); cf. MHG. buole, mod.Ger. buhle ‘lover’, earlier also ‘friend, kinsman’.