Dec 7, 2016

Etymology Expeditions: The Weapons Edition

Finally finished playing Witcher III  yesterday. A great game, even though there were a few too many side quests for my taste. Loved the ending, but then, I got the good one:) While playing, I came across some really weird names for weapons. Let's check out a few etymologies!

Halberd (you know, the axe thing mounted on a long handle) comes from Middle High German halmbarte "long axe with handle", from halm, handle + barte "hatchet." The alternative etymology is kind of hilarious: the word might come from helm, helmet, so an axe for bashing in helmets. Speaking of hilarious, halberd in Finnish is "hilpari." Cracks me up every time.

Rapier, as you might have guessed, is of French origin. The origin is uncertain, but it's thought to come from raspiere "poker, scraper."

Pike is an easy one, it's from Middle French piquer "to puncture, pierce."

Flail comes from the West German borrowing of the Latin flagellum "winnowing tool, flail," in Latin "whip."

Arrow is interesting, because it ultimately goes back to Latin arcus, arch, which originally referred to the sun's motion in the sky. The PIE root *arku- means "bowed, curved."So the word "arrow" refers to both the bow and arrow, in a way. The word bow is from Proto-Germanic bugon, "bow."


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