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Historical Origins of English Words and Phrases

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tree [Jan. 1st, 2010|06:29 pm]
Historical Origins of English Words and Phrases

word_ancestry

[gwoman]
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[Current Mood |complacentcomplacent]

tree, n. [tree, trē]
-Today's word is very old, and its similarity in so many different languages reflects how important this symbol and physical object was and is. In English, modern tree is a carry-over from Middle English tree, which came from Old English treo, treow 'tree, wood.' This - along with Old Frisian and Old Norse tre, Old Saxon trio, and Gothic triu - is descended from Proto-Germanic trewan 'tree, oak.' Scholars believe that our Germanic root can be traced back to prehistoric Indo-European deru, doru 'oak' (see English druid). Other descendants of this ancient root are Albanian drusk 'oak,' Greek drys 'oak' and doru 'spear,' Old Church Slavonic drievo 'tree, wood,' Russian derevo 'tree, wood,' Polish drewno 'wood,' Lithuanian derva 'pine wood,' Old Irish daur and Welsh derwen 'oak,' Sanskrit dru 'tree, wood' and daru 'wood, log,' and Serbian drvo 'tree' and drva 'wood.' Our English word oak, to specify the type of tree, has known cognates only in the Germanic languages; any trail prior to this has so far been lost.



An oak tree
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: dance_the_dance
2010-01-02 02:47 am (UTC)
In Polish there's also drzewo (tree). :) And while drwa is correct, it's also a bit archaic - the more common word for wood is drewno.
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[User Picture]From: gwoman
2010-01-02 03:33 am (UTC)
thank you! i'll switch to the more common word in this post. :)
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[User Picture]From: tree
2010-01-02 03:27 am (UTC)
:D
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[User Picture]From: gwoman
2010-01-02 03:34 am (UTC)
lol it's perfect! why did you pick that username?
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[User Picture]From: tree
2010-01-02 03:39 am (UTC)
no terribly philosophical reason. i just love trees. :) i was actually stunned when i found that the username was available. of course, that was in 2001, so LJ had nowhere near the userbase that it does now.
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[User Picture]From: aylie_serinde
2010-01-02 10:45 am (UTC)
You are not altogether correct about Russian: the common word for 'tree' is "derevo", and "drevo" is an archaic variant used mostly in poetic style - although in Bielorussian we do say "dreva" ;) (fisrt syllable stressed in all of them).
Thanks for the post! I love trees ;) Willows and pines are my favorites :)
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[User Picture]From: gwoman
2010-01-02 07:42 pm (UTC)
ack! i don't know why my sources are giving me all these archaic words instead of modern ones. thank you for the correction; i'll go change it now.

and glad you liked it!
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[User Picture]From: briddi
2010-01-04 01:15 pm (UTC)
With all these Germanic roots I wonder how the modern German Baum for tree came along ...
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[User Picture]From: gwoman
2010-01-05 12:26 am (UTC)
ooh, that is a good question. please let us know if you find out.
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[User Picture]From: briddi
2010-01-05 12:25 pm (UTC)
I found something on the net that the German Baum and English beam might be related. I'll have to look it up at home, though. That said, may I request the word "beam" (both the log and the light)? I'm really curious now.
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