Monday, December 17, 2012

False Cognates

False cognates are pairs of words in the same or different languages that are similar in form and meaning but have different roots. That is, they appear to be, or are sometimes considered, cognates, when in fact they are not.

pepper (n.) Old English pipor, from an early West Germanic borrowing of Latin piper "pepper," from Greek piperi, probably (via Persian) from Middle Indic pippari, from Sanskrit pippali "long pepper." The Latin word is the source of German Pfeffer, Italian pepe, French poivre, Old Church Slavonic pipru, Lithuanian pipiras, Old Irish piobhar, Welsh pybyr, etc. Application to fruits of the capsicum family (unrelated, originally native of tropical America) is 16c. pepper (v.) "to sprinkle as with pepper," 1610s, from pepper (n.). Old English had gepipera. Meaning "to pelt with shot, etc." is from 1640s. Related: Peppered; peppering.

Definition via Online Etymology Dictionary 
Comic via Wondermark

1 comment:

strang family said...

I really like this cartoon and learned a lot about false cognates. I love learning about the evolution of English words and their origins. While not as creative as pep and pepper I noticed that words like accept and except seem to be false cognates. Except comes from the Latin word exceptus or the past participle of the verb exceptere and is first seen in Middle English around the 14th century as excepten. It means with the exclusion of; excluding; save; but. The word accept means to take or receive (something offered); receive with approval or favor. It comes from the old French word or verb accepter which means to take what is offered. This word also shows up in Middle English around the 14th century as accepten. These are commonly confused words in English since their appearance is so similar but meaning two different things.

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