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".

2 comments :

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’.