Thursday, 5 August 2010

while and coy

Both while and whilst are from Old English hwīl. The Proto-Indo-European root is *kʷiH- (in Fortson, the AHD has *kʷeih₁- "to rest, be quiet"), and hwīl is from the suffixed zero-grade form *kʷiH-lo-.

coy is from Old French coi "quiet, reserved, shy," from Latin quiētus, the past participle of quiēscere "to rest", from *kʷiH- plus the suffix *-sḱe-.

while is a shortening of Middle English þe while þat "during the time that". whilst is from Middle English whilest, from whiles, the being added perhaps by association with the superlative est (as in fastest). We also find it in amongst and amidst. whiles was while plus the adverbial suffix -s, as in "He works nights."

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