Monday, 24 August 2009

mooch and smoke

mooch "to dawdle in a bored or listless manner" is from mooch "to loaf, to skulk, to sneak". This is probably from Anglo-Norman muscher "to hide", as in Middle French muce, musse, mouce "hiding place". This is borrowed from an unattested Celtic form that is from the same base as Old Irish múch "smoke", Welsh mwg "smoke" (OED). Welsh mwg is from Proto-Indo-European *(s)meug- "to smoke". This became Old English smocian, English smoke.

No relation to French mouchoir or mouche.


Adam Roberts said...

... and presumably a Tolkien dragon-naming connection.

goofy said...

Interesting. This site says Smaug is "the past tense of the primitive Germanic verb Smugan, to squeeze through a hole"'.

Old English smūgan is related to smeagol.