Friday, 15 June 2012

faith and abide

faith is borrowed from Old French feid, feit, which was pronounced with a final fricative, explaining the fricative in English. The French word is from Latin fidem from *bhidh-, the zero-grade from of *bheidh- "to trust" (the IEW has "advise, force").

*bheidh- also probably became Old English bīdan "bide, wait for" (from earlier "await trustingly, expect, trust" which combined with the preposition on to form English abide.

The OED says fidēs has an etymological cognate in πίστις, which struck me as weird, but it's true, at least according to Pokorny's IEW 117, where he places πίστις in the entry for *bheidh-, from an earlier form with *φ.

1 comment :

Áhann Áhim said...

Quite true on the Greek - that derivative is actually less controversial than the Germanic *bīdan group (some people don't like the semantic gap - not that anyone's proposed a better etymology, and an explanation like you give seems reasonable enough). The deaspiration of *φ to π is from the Greek version of Grassmann's Law, showing that it operated after the devoicing of *bh to *ph. This is more transparent in verbal forms like πείθομαι where the θ is still visible.