WANTON.

You’d think I’d be familiar with the etymologies of the basic English vocabulary words, but I keep running into surprises. This one comes courtesy of aldiboronti at Wordorigins.org: wanton has the only survival in modern English of a formerly common prefix, wan-, about which the OED says:

a prefix expressing privation or negation (approximately equivalent to UN-1 or MIS-), repr. OE. wan-, won-, corresponding to OFris. wan-, won-, OS. wan- (only in wanskefti misfortune = OE. wansceaft), MLG., MDu. wan- (mod.Du. in many new formations, esp. in the sense ‘wrong’, ‘mis-’, as in wanbestuur misgovernment, wanluid discordant sound), OHG. wan-, wana (only in wanwâfan unarmed, wanaheil unhealthy, infirm, wanawizzi lacking wit, insane), MHG. wan- (only in wanwitze inherited from OHG.), mod.G. wahn- (in wahnwitz, wahnsinn insanity, commonly apprehended as compounds of wahn n., delusion; also in some dialect words, chiefly adopted from LG.); ON., Sw., Da. van- (in many old formations, to which mod.Sw. and Da. have added many more, chiefly adopted from LG.). The prefix is in origin identical with WANE a.
  In OE. the number of words formed with the prefix is considerable, but none of them has survived into modern English, and only one (wanspéd, ill-success) into ME. Of the many new formations that arose in ME., only wantoȝen, undisciplined, WANTON, still survives in use (with no consciousness of its etymological meaning)…

And here all these years I just assumed Wahnsinn was from Wahn. This wan- is probably related to Latin vānus ‘empty, idle, vain.’ As for the second part, toȝen is the past participle of téon ‘to discipline, train,’ a strong verb (past téah, tuȝon) related to German ziehen, zog, gezogen, Goth. tiuhan, táuh, tauhum, tauhans, and Latin dūcere ‘to lead, draw,’ as well as to English tow ‘to draw, pull.’ So now you know.

Comments

  1. The next few words are “… wanhope and wantrust may have been suggested by the equivalent MDu. forms”, and indeed the entry at wanhope actually claims that it is from this prefix wan-, contradicting the entry at the prefix itself. In any case, wan-, wan, wane all have the same origin, whatever convoluted paths they may have followed from Common Germanic.
    Online Etymology agrees that wan and vain are doublets, so your Latin cognate is correct: the PIE form is *wa-no. (It’s irritating that the Online Etymology Dictionary can’t be known by its initials.)

  2. Bob Gillham says:

    The word “wan” itself meaning pale,sickly, without (healthy) colour….

  3. John: How about OEtyD as an abbreviation?
    Wan reminds me of how some Irish English speakers pronounce one. I didn’t know about the etymology of wan- — thanks, LH.

  4. And here all these years I just assumed Wahnsinn was from Wahn.
    Imagine my surprise erst. The urgent question is now: WTF is the origin of Wahn ? Duden sez:

    [mhd., ahd. wan= Meinung; Hoffnung; Verdacht, verw. mit gewinnen]

    Related to gewinnen ?? Here Duden tells us:

    ge|win|nen [mhd. gewinnen, ahd. giwinnan= zu etw. gelangen; erlangen, zu mhd. winnen, ahd. winnan= kämpfen, sich anstrengen; leiden; erlangen, urspr. = umherziehen; nach etw. suchen, trachten]

    So Wahn is a wandering around in your head, looking for something – without necessarily being crazy. The verb is of course wähnen.

  5. marie-lucie says:

    (It’s irritating that the Online Etymology Dictionary can’t be known by its initials.)
    What about OnED or OLED ?

  6. Online Etymology agrees that wan and vain are doublets, so your Latin cognate is correct
    All respect to the OnEtDi, but I’ll stick with my formulation. “Probable” is not the same as “certain.”
    How about OEtyD as an abbreviation?
    What about OnED or OLED ?
    The point is not that it’s impossible to come up with abbreviations but that the obvious one is taken and no alternative is, or is ever likely to be, generally accepted and understood, and what’s the point in using an abbreviation that has to be explained each time?

  7. Is German ohne akin either to wan- or to un-?
    When we get to vain we are close to vacuum and vacant. I used to guess, wrongly it seems, that “going on vacation” means vacating the premises, but it seems that it harks back to an earlier sense of “vacant”: at leisure. I also stumbled (in the OnlEtyDict) upon the fact that “empty” meant “at leisure” before it meant “having nothing inside”. (Which reminds me, I should be working.)

  8. Is German ohne akin either to wan- or to un-?
    Definitely not the former (since it has always started with a vowel—the OHG form was anô); Lutz Mackensen says it’s related to Greek άνευ [áneu] ‘without,’ while un- is related to the Greek negative prefix α(ν)- [a(n)-]. I don’t know if the two Greek forms are related.

  9. marie-lucie says:

    LH: The point is not that it’s impossible to come up with abbreviations but that the obvious one is taken and no alternative is, or is ever likely to be, generally accepted and understood, and what’s the point in using an abbreviation that has to be explained each time?
    Not all common abbreviations are just initials, otherwise there would be a large number of homonyms. Many scholarly journals use abbreviations which are not just their initials, but have extra letters in order to differentiate them. It does not matter so much when the subjects are totally unrelated and therefore unlikely to be quoted in the same context (lexicography and chemistry, for instance), but here there is a need for an abbreviation. Perhaps the people who put out the OnED/OnEtyD/etc already have one that they use in-house (assuming it is not just OED)? Such things get established when enough people are consistent.
    Lutz Mackensen says it’s related to Greek άνευ [áneu] ‘without,’ while un- is related to the Greek negative prefix α(ν)- [a(n)-]. I don’t know if the two Greek forms are related.
    I would be surprised if they were not. The reason for the difference in vowels in the German forms is probably that one is stressed and the other is not.

  10. Such things get established when enough people are consistent.
    Exactly, but the OnlEtyDic has been around for years now and no abbreviation has established itself; I’m betting that situation will continue.

  11. I thought wanton was from ON., Sw., a kind of soup with hot Swedish meatballs.

  12. I would advise against ordering wanton soup, the dining room could get messy.

  13. From The Edinburgh History of the Scots Language:

    Scots has, of course, its own reversing preface wan-, also appearing as a separate word meaning “lacking”. Found in Old English but dying out in southern England before the end of the Middle English period, it was used in a number of words in the Older Scots peirod, some of which survive into our period like wanchance, wanhap, and wanluck, all meaning “misfortune”, and wanwordy “unworthy, worthless”… [etc.] Page 403.

    Of all these words, wanchancy (unlucky) may be the only one that came to the attention of the non-Scots-speaking world.

  14. Here’s the rest of the paragraph:

    …From these come some simple derivatives or back-formations like wanchancy “unlucky” and wanworth “something worthless”. Wanchancy may also have been modelled on the existing unchancy as wansonsy probably is on unsonsy. Riddell’s Psalms of 1857 are SND’s only source for wanhonor “dishonour” (Ps. 69:16), wantimely “untimely” (Ps. 58:8) and the verb wanrest in the meaning of “to upset” (Ps. 42:5) and they may be purely literary creations since Riddell (1857) is patently not a guide to contemporary spoken usage. On the other hand, wan- or wun- is the Southern Scots pronunciation of un- (described by Murray (1873: 131) as “disappearing” but not, apparently, obsolete), and these may simply be representations of Southern Scots pronunciations of un- forms of these words. In Shetland and Orkney, the use of wan- was probably reinforced by the exactly parallel Scandinavian van-, but words like wanfine “an unprofitable ending”, wanjoy “sorrow” and wanpeace “strife” which combine wan- with words of Romance origin are clearly new creations and not borrowings from a Scandinavian source. Further wan- words appearing after 1700 are either merely Scotticisations of English words like wanbritherly, wanearthly and wantidy or rather self-conscious literary creations used by only one author, like wanbod “damaging report” (based on an obsolete sense of bode “news”) and wanliesum “unlovely”.

  15. Again with italics fixed (preview, Vasha, preview, remember?)

    …From these come some simple derivatives or back-formations like wanchancy “unlucky” and wanworth “something worthless”. Wanchancy may also have been modelled on the existing unchancy as wansonsy probably is on unsonsy. Riddell’s Psalms of 1857 are SND’s only source for wanhonor “dishonour” (Ps. 69:16), wantimely “untimely” (Ps. 58:8) and the verb wanrest in the meaning of “to upset” (Ps. 42:5) and they may be purely literary creations since Riddell (1857) is patently not a guide to contemporary spoken usage. On the other hand, wan- or wun- is the Southern Scots pronunciation of un- (described by Murray (1873: 131) as “disappearing” but not, apparently, obsolete), and these may simply be representations of Southern Scots pronunciations of un- forms of these words. In Shetland and Orkney, the use of wan- was probably reinforced by the exactly parallel Scandinavian van-, but words like wanfine “an unprofitable ending”, wanjoy “sorrow” and wanpeace “strife” which combine wan- with words of Romance origin are clearly new creations and not borrowings from a Scandinavian source. Further wan- words appearing after 1700 are either merely Scotticisations of English words like wanbritherly, wanearthly and wantidy or rather self-consicous literary creations used by only one author, like wanbod “damaging report” (based on an obsolete sense of bode “news”) and wanliesum “unlovely”.

  16. Does wanker, wanking fit somewhere next to wanton? Maybe it’s another survivor?

  17. The word ‘wanluid’ doesn’t really exist in current Dutch. ‘Luid’ itself is only an adjective meaning ‘loud’.
    Words for ‘sound’ are ‘klank’ and ‘geluid’ (but there’s no ‘wangeluid’ either); The word for ‘discordant sound’ is ‘wanklank’.
    Other than that, there’s ‘wanhoop’ (despair), ‘wansmaak’ (bad taste), ‘wanorde’ (disorder), and a few more.
    [the only appearance of the word 'wanluid' (on the internet) is in a poem that contains a novel compound or word on nearly every line]
    (and then there’s ‘wannabe’, which is a bad kind of nabe)

  18. and then there’s ‘wannabe’, which is a bad kind of nabe
    Heh. I may start using that.

  19. Also, watch out for the crazy-bad sort of ker.
    And wanbetalers.

  20. Like csprr I had never heard of wanluid, so I checked the online Woordenboek der Nederlandsche Taal (http://gtb.inl.nl/?owner=WNT), which has only wanluidend, wanluidig dissonant, not harmonious.
    German Wahnsinn corresponds to Dutch waanzin. Dutch wanzin sounds strange but is present in the WNT (meaning “nonsense”).
    There many modern Dutch words starting with wan-, and also several with waan-.
    For wan- the WNT points to Old Indic ūná, Avestan una, Armenian unain, Greek ευνισ with general meaning insufficient, empty, devoid.
    For waan- the WNT points to the PIE root uěn-, from which Latin vênor (to hunt) and Gothic wenjan seem to be derived, with general meaning to want, desire, expect.
    So maybe there are two different origins.

  21. Seems to me too that ‘wan-’ and ‘waan-’ words have different origins, that is, my PG dictionary has:
    PG *wan(-az) initially appears in all branches of Germanic as an independent adjective meaning ‘lacking’ or ‘deficient’, whence the wan- words.
    PG *wēn(-iz), a noun, also appears in all branches, whence the waan- words.
    All (Dutch) words with waan- now have a sense of delusion or false expectation. The meaning seems to have evolved along a somewhat disheartening path from ‘hope/expectation’ by way of ‘opinion/supposition’ and ‘guess’ to ‘delusion’.
    There even appears to be a modern(-ish?) English verb ‘to ween’ meaning ‘to hope’. i.e. the cognate of Dutch/German ‘wa(a)nen’/'wähnen’ (derived from the PG root *wēn). Which seems clearly separate from ‘to wane’ (diminish) descending from the PG root *wan.
    Browsing the WNT turns up so many great words!: like ‘wanvet’ (not fat enough), ‘wanbroedsel’ (monstrosity, misshapen/deformed figure) and ‘wantaal’ (among other meanings apparently: “language full of errors breaking the syntactical, morphological, phonological, lexical and(!) semantic rules of the standard language, especially the use of words of foreign origin.” A great all-round powerword for any Dutch prescriptivist I’d say.
    Wondering if ‘wan-’ can still be productive, now that it is a sort of prefix (as it can’t appear independently anymore). Even though some of the WNT words appear quite recent, I’m struggling to come up with a neologism that sounds right. (?”Ajax speelde afgelopen zondag een wanwedstrijd”, mmmh)

  22. Modernish ween? Not the same ween in overweening?

  23. Well I wrote modern-ish, cause it is listed in a current dictionary, but sounds unknown/obsolete to me (but then I’m no native speaker).
    overweening, which I hadn’t considered, is from the same root yes.

  24. “Between” originally meant nocturnal enuresis, a specific kind of overweening.

  25. Of legal knowledge I acquired such a grip
    That they took me into the partnership.
    And that junior partnership, I ween,
    Was the only ship that I ever had seen.
    But that kind of ship so suited me,
    That now I am the Ruler of the Queen’s Navee!

  26. Stu, you live in the land of wieners, don’t you?

  27. While talking with someone yesterday I noticed that he scarcely pronounces the “t” in “between”. Very odd.

  28. you live in the land of wieners, don’t you?
    How true, empty. But oddly enough you find Wieners only in Austria. There’s nothing edible in Germany whose name sounds like the English “wiener”, apart from Wiener Schnitzel, which is not a wiener. Würstchen are sold and consumed primarily in Southern Germany.
    While on the subject of things that don’t exist in Germany but are supposedly German: I have never encountered here a Kartoffelsalat anything like the American “German potato salad”. No German housewife, from one end of the country to the other, would ever put celery in potato salad, and then pour hot bacon grease over the lot.
    Also, “pumpernickel” is merely a word some people know. In Cologne at least, “pumpernickel” bread can be found only in remote corners of supermarket shelves. I have never seen it in a bakery, where you can buy all kinds of Schwarzbrot, but nothing that tastes like or is called Pumpernickel.

  29. I find that Pumpernickel originally came from Westphalia. The WiPe article passes on a speculation that the word means “farting Santa Claus” (Nikolaus). It says that Pumper in the Sauerland means flatulence. This may help to explain why the product is not widely available.

  30. Wiki indicates that pumpernickel is Westphalian; that true German pumpernickel is nothing like American “pumpernickel”; and that etymologically the word means something like fart-devil.
    Does Germany have “German chocolate cake”?

  31. No deutsche Schokoladentorte here. Is there such a thing as “American chocolate cake” ?

  32. There is a specific thing that is called German chocolate cake, something involving a good deal of coconut. I doubt that most people using the expression believe that it is the only kind of chocolate cake known in Germany, or common in Germany, and I hope that nobody would expect Germans to know it as “German chocolate cake”.
    Added in proof: Wiki sez:
    Contrary to popular belief, German chocolate cake did not originate in Germany. Its roots can be traced back to 1852 when Englishman Sam German developed a brand of dark baking chocolate for the American Baker’s Chocolate Company. The product, Baker’s German’s Sweet Chocolate, was named in honor of him.

  33. Trond Engen says:

    This my even help to explain why the region is called Sauerland.

  34. Ahh, yes, die Kokonuss: collected every spring by the unmarried girls of the village on the lush and sunny shores of the bright blue Baltic Sea; a practice dating back to pre-Christian times, signifying… zzz
    What about Wannsee though, is there something lacking, wanting or deficient about that See?

  35. I must admit that I thought pumpernickel originated in Denmark. The stuff that looks as though it’s been flattened by a steamroller is marketed as “Danish pumpernickel” both in Britain and Norway, perhaps to distinguish it from fluffier varieties. If you want to see it all over the shelves, G., go to Hamburg. When I lived with the ancient Gräfin there, that was the only bread she ate, and I quickly got very, very tired of it.
    Promper are farts in Norwegian.

  36. Grumbly, do you ever yearn for a Hershey bar like the man in the film The French Connection? If I were yearning for something USian, a Hershey bar is about the last thing I’d choose.

  37. I don’t think I have ever repined for anything All-American. Occasionally I get grumpy about not having jalapeños to hand, or the makings for chiles rellenos.

  38. What about Wannsee though, is there something lacking, wanting or deficient about that See?
    wan- is always empty. Wanne [tub] is empty except when it is full of See.

  39. There is a specific thing that is called German chocolate cake, something involving a good deal of coconut.
    And that is why I do not eat German chocolate cake. But I am flabbergasted to learn the name has nothing to do with Germany. Again, the things you learn around here!

  40. Nor do french fries have anything to do with France. Was there a Mr. Ffrench in the history of fries ? Belgian chocolate has to do with Belgium, but I’m not sure whether that’s also true of brussel sprouts.

  41. Next you’ll be telling us English muffins don’t come from Hamburg — or is it Vienna?

  42. Sorry, I meant Black Forest cake.

  43. My mom told me that Pumpernickel meant “bread for the horse”, a garbled version of the “pain pour nicole” false etymology.

  44. (IIRC in my mom’s version of the story it was a Polish expression.)

  45. So this was a Polish horse called Nicole? Great. Why was she eating bread?

  46. No no, as I remember hearing the story, “nickel” was Polish for “horse”. It was the Polish king that was served the bread and deemed it fit only for a horse.

  47. I’ve heard of quarter-horses. Are nickel-horses even smaller? Cent-horse are partly human, IIRC. Fart(h)ing-horse?

  48. Alas, Polish for ‘horse’ is koń.

  49. I’m reminded of the Bob and Doug MacKenzie sketch in which, on discovering that Americans call back bacon “Canadian bacon”, they begin hypothesizing about “back cheese” in Switzerland, “back fries” in France, etc.

  50. Cent-horse are partly human, IIRC
    That’s right, empty. In our tolerant times, penny-horse are more to be pitied than despised.

  51. Grumbly, are you really saying that there are no Wiener Würstchen in Germany, or have I misunderstood you? I’ve just come back from Aachen, where they can be bought in every supermarket.

  52. No German housewife, from one end of the country to the other, would ever put celery in potato salad, and then pour hot bacon grease over the lot.
    I don’t know about the celery, but it says here that adding bacon bits and serving it warm are standard options for Kartoffelsalat in southern Germany.

  53. My inlaws on the German side made hot potato salad with bacon, sugar, and vinegar.

  54. Grumbly, are you really saying that there are no Wiener Würstchen in Germany, or have I misunderstood you ?.
    bruessel, I mainly just wanted to make the silly remark that Wiener Schnitzel are not wieners. Actually Wiener Würstchen now rings a faint bell – are they actually referred to with an abbreviated plural as Wiener, or even Wieners ?? I’ve never much liked any kind of Würstchen, and over the years have lost appetite for any kind of pulverized and processed meat, so that could explain my lapse. Nürnberger Würstchen was as far east as I got in my memory.
    bacon bits and serving it warm are standard options for Kartoffelsalat in southern Germany
    My inlaws on the German side made hot potato salad with bacon, sugar, and vinegar
    Sure, in southern Germany there is a disgusting kind of potato salad with bacon bits, onions (very little, I think), oil, vinegar and sugar – but no celery, and no bacon grease. This is on offer several times a week in the cafeteria of the Deutsche Bahn where I am currently working. A mealy kind of potato is used that sloughs off part of its mass into the oil and vinegar like peeling skin, producing a slimy and utterly disgusting result. Several of the German colleagues with whom I go to the cafeteria are from southern Germany (one is from Bavaria), and they find this salad unpalatable.
    In the States years ago I read a recipe for “German potato salad” that included celery, and directed the reader to pour hot bacon grease over the final product. Stick celery has been available in Germany only over the last 20-25 years or so. Before that it was almost completely unknown here. The same is true of okra. Has anyone ever wondered what stick celery is stuck to when it’s growing ? It must be some kind of tuber, right ? Yes indeed, and in Germany this is a standard vegetable called Sellerie. I think it’s called celeriac in English. Just yesterday I made a salad of cooked Sellerie, apples, nuts, mayonnaise and yoghurt with a little mustard in.
    Sellerie has dark green, rather tough fibrous stems that you can’t eat raw but can use for flavor in a soup. It must be related to celery stick plant, but is a different variety.

  55. HERE are several Sellerieknollen (pl.). Says there that Sellerie is one of the kinds of vegetable that most often cause allergic reactions in Europeans. Never heard of such a thing, but then I had never heard of peanut allergy either except in the last thirty years or so. From my point of view, there seems to be an epidemic of it. Does anybody know if peanut allergy is a “disease of modern civilization”, or has the problem been around for a long time and just hadn’t been identified as an allergy to peanuts ?

  56. discovering that Americans call back bacon “Canadian bacon”
    I remember how as children we were amused to discover that the American Mountains (американские горки – amerikanskie gorki) are called Russian Mountains in America. And I was even more amused when I learned that les Montagnes Russes is also present in French.
    I think it’s called celeriac in English. Just yesterday I made a salad of cooked Sellerie, apples, nuts, mayonnaise and yoghurt with a little mustard in.
    It’s a very common confusion, because they sound similar and the plant family is the same.
    celeriac – céleri-rave in French, a root veg, but celery is céleri, a top green veg, stalks or leaves.
    Your recipe sounds delicious, Stu, what nuts did you use?

  57. a disgusting kind of potato salad
    The names of ‘salads’ (салат) with potatoes and mayonaise as the necessary ingredients are a desperate labyrinth. Travellers to the Soviet Union would remember ‘Salat Stolichny’ with potatoes, gherkins, pieces of meat and mayonaise. But that must have been a development of ‘salade Olivier’, a pre-revolutionary invention of Lucien Olivier, the French chef at the Hermitage restaurant, which originally included Red Grouse (рябчики) and crayfish tails. Salad Olivier is still very popular in Russia. Wikipedia says Olivier is often called Russian salad, while the ‘correct’ Russian salad is what in Russia we call винегрет – vinaigraitte, finely diced red beetroot, peas, finely diced potatoes, gherkins, sometimes diced beef, all bound with olive/sunflower oil and – vinaigraitte. But there isn’t an English page on wiki on this type of salad, but I’ve heard it refered to as ‘German salad’, and ‘salade Olivier’ looks to me very much like common French charcouterie fare called ‘salad piemontaise’. Can anyone untangle this?

  58. what nuts did you use?
    Walnuts are the classic choice. I didn’t have any at home and was too lazy to go around the corner to the supermarket, which for several weeks has been bursting with sacks of all kinds of nut. So I used “Chinese peanuts” that I occasionally buy at an African grocery nearby. They’re small and round, with a reddish husk (I suppose they were originally in shells, but these have already been removed before the nuts are shrink-wrapped). I roasted them slightly in a little sunflower oil before adding them to the salad. They don’t have the same effect as walnuts, so I just pretended I was on a survival course.

  59. It just occurs to me that Waldorf salad is an American version of my German standard Selleriesalat. Possibly because in America celeriac has been regarded as animal fodder ? Until about 20 years ago in Germany, corn was usually fed to the pigs. Oh well, it wasn’t after all the kind of sweet corn that Americans are accustomed to eat, and that Germans are getting used to.
    Sweet corn is currently faddish here. Last week at that Frankfurt cafeteria there was corn on the cob. Germans add corn to anything and then call it “Texan” or “Mexican”.

  60. marie-lucie says:

    Russian mountains must be a literal translation from French: in North America what it refers to is normally called a rollercoaster.
    “Salads” (= cold dishes) with potatoes as the main ingredient don’t necessarily have precise definitions: they are a good way to use small amounts of leftover veggies and sometimes meat. Wikipedia.fr gives several recipes for salade russe (Olivier’s recipe seems to be lost). Salade piémontaise has tomatoes, not beets.
    Vinaigrette at its simplest is oil, vinegar and a pinch of salt. I use two parts of oil to one of vinegar, but that’s because I don’t like vinegar.
    Peanut allergies: many children are allergic to peanuts, some of them severely so, and adults can become allergic to foods they eat very frequently (I learned that from experience). I think that the spread of peanut allergies in Europe is not a “disease of civilization” but is due to the relatively recent popularity of peanut butter. I did not even know about peanut butter until I came to the US in the 1960′s (before the big wave of Americanization). At that time, in France you could buy raw, unshelled peanuts, and we used peanut oil for cooking and salads (those peanuts came from Africa). The first time I saw a peanut butter and raspberry jam sandwich (in the US) I thought it looked disgusting, and I was surprised that it tasted good!

  61. marie-lucie says:

    I was forgetting céleri rémoulade, made with shredded céleri-rave with a mustard mayonnaise. I don’t think that the céleri-rave is cooked before mixing with the sauce. I find this a lot more palatable than the cooked version.

  62. I remember how as children we were amused to discover that the American Mountains (американские горки – amerikanskie gorki) are called Russian Mountains in America.
    Not in America! I’ve never seen or heard the term; we call them roller coasters. Wikipedia tells me the term exists, however; the thing so called was “a predecessor to the roller coaster.”

  63. McCarthy era linguistic cleansing?
    I definitely remember Russian mountains in reference to roller-coasters on a school trip to Coney Island.

  64. That Wikipedia article needs improvement. The picture of the pavillion should be thrown out as irrelevant. The article should have depictions (engravings) either of the “sled rides” on propped-up, artificial hills of ice, or of the “wheeled carts” in Oranienbaum, or of the Montagnes Russes in 1804 Paris.

  65. oh, I dig it, wonderful: Catherine popularises down-hil crazy sledge rides as amusement at her court (late C18th), the French take it to their country as montagnes russes in early C19th, Americans take it from France and keep the name, come 1880s when the fascination with the new possibilities of steel was high and the first roller-coaster is built in New York. And then at the end of C19th-beginning of C20th imported to St-Petersburg as ‘amerikanskie gorki’ because it was so distinctly American.
    Another phrase travelling the full circle.

  66. céleri-rave
    yes, céleri-remoulade is a wonderful side dish. Céleri-rave also makes a very tasty winter soup.
    Just checked my barquette of piemontaise – no tomatoes. Am I being cheated?
    I am not much into cooking, I’ve learnt these things from copy-editing. My theory is that there are only two types of food – crunchy and slimy. The rest is pure hype. That’s why I’m a bit suspicious of Waldorf – it wantonly tries to be both.

  67. marie-lucie says:

    Just checked my barquette of piemontaise – no tomatoes. Am I being cheated?
    Probably! or rather, some of these designations are used very loosely by manufacturers (since you are looking at a barquette, I guess that this piémontaise is not homemade – so you will have to add the tomato yourself, and learn how to make it for next time, instead of buying it).

  68. ah, what a nice suggestion – a real treat (on the slimy side and add a crunchy baguette)

  69. Marie-Lucie,
    While we are on the culinary theme, do you have an opinion on the origins of poutine, the word?

  70. ‘the obvious [abbreviation] is taken and no alternative is, or is ever likely to be, generally accepted and understood’
    ‘Not all common abbreviations are just initials’
    To return briefly to the question of how to abbreviate the Online Etymology Dictionary: Etymonline has perhaps more going for it than any of the possible initialisms, and it’s what the site’s creator calls it. Full consensus might be impossible, but more consensus would be worth edging towards.

  71. marie-lucie says:

    Sashura: do you have an opinion on the origins of poutine, the word?
    I had never thought about it (or eaten the disgusting-looking mess), but I just glanced at wikipedia and wikipedia.fr. I didn’t have time to read the entire articles, but the word might be originally a local pronunciation of “pudding”, later also used to mean “mess”.

  72. Etymonline has perhaps more going for it than any of the possible initialisms, and it’s what the site’s creator calls it.
    Excellent; I’ll try to remember to use it.

  73. Hi, I just saw this via a link, and my apologies for the confusion of the acronym. When someone first suggested “Online Etymology Dictionary” as a website name, of course she and I both saw the parallel, and at the time it seemed like an amusing side-effect. The idea that etymonline ever would be confused with, or even mentioned in the same sentance as, the real OED seemed laughable back in 2001 or whenever it was. Besides “Online Etymology Dictionary” seemed the most accurate description. I’m pleased that the work has turned out well enough to create this minor problem (though some people will stenuously argue that my original assumption still holds). I always call it “etymonline.” OetyD looks good to me. “Oh, wetty D.” Sounds like the first line of a poem by Grover from “Sesame Street.”

  74. Sashura, m-l: It was named after a certain Canadian prime minister, well-known in the States for his endorsement of George W. Bush’s candidacy.

  75. marie-lucie says:

    JC, perhaps I am obtuse, but I don’t understand your joke.

  76. Wikipedia explains:

    In a Talking to Americans segment on the television series This Hour Has 22 Minutes during the 2000 American election, Rick Mercer convinced then-Governor of Texas George W. Bush that Canada’s Prime Minister, Jean Chrétien, was named Jean Poutine and that he was supporting Bush’s candidacy. A few years later when Bush made his first official visit to Canada, he said during a speech, “There’s a prominent citizen who endorsed me in the 2000 election, and I wanted a chance to finally thank him for that endorsement. I was hoping to meet Jean Poutine.” The remark was met with laughter and applause.

  77. Did Bush really not understand the original prank, or was he just jokingly hamming up the whole thing later in Canada?

  78. marie-lucie says:

    Thanks, LH. “Poutine” is how the name of the Russian leader is written in French, so referring to “Jean Poutine” would have been an even more outrageous joke on GWB’s knowledge of who was who in international politics. Once he understood the joke, he must have accepted it with good grace since he used it later in his Canadian speech, thus breaking the ice.

  79. David Marjanović says:

    And here all these years I just assumed Wahnsinn was from Wahn.

    Thirded.

    mhd. gewinnen, ahd. giwinnan

    Oh, so ge- was gi- in OHG? That might explain why it’s more often than not pronounced with [e] instead of [ɛ] even though it’s always unstressed and therefore cannot be long and is therefore expected to have a lax vowel.

    So Wahn is a wandering around in your head, looking for something – without necessarily being crazy. The verb is of course wähnen.

    So that’s why the Wagners have Villa Wahnfried – wo mein Wähnen Frieden fand, which is supposed to mean something along the lines of “where my restless mind found peace” but sounds just funny nowadays.
    Today, the meaning of wähnen has been distorted by that of Wahn, which is “delusion” due to the influence of Wahnsinn. Thus, er wähnte sich in Sicherheit now means “he falsely thought to be safe”.

    ohne

    Doesn’t that survive in English in on end?

    But oddly enough you find Wieners only in Austria.

    …where they’re called Frankfurter. They were invented in Vienna by a butcher called Frankfurter, I think.

    Also, “pumpernickel” is merely a word some people know. In Cologne at least, “pumpernickel” bread can be found only in remote corners of supermarket shelves.

    It does seem to have been more widely available in earlier times (perhaps in the 1950s or even the 1930s or 20s?). I’ve always imagined it as “a special north German sort of whole-grain bread”.
    And I haven’t seen the American version.

    die Koko[s]nuss

    FIFY. /ˈkoːkɔsˌnʊsˑ/.

    Does anybody know if peanut allergy is a “disease of modern civilization”, or has the problem been around for a long time and just hadn’t been identified as an allergy to peanuts ?

    Peanuts themselves haven’t been available that much…
    I’m allergic to peanuts as part of my general allergy to nuts, certain fruits like apples and pears, and birch pollen. That’s ancient.
    Allergies in general are becoming more common because our immune systems haven’t got enough to do. Indeed, so many parasites manage to suppress the immune system that we seem to be compensating for them even when they aren’t there.

    Once he understood the joke, he must have accepted it with good grace since he used it later in his Canadian speech, thus breaking the ice.

    What makes you think he ever understood it? I wouldn’t bet he understands it even now. Look at all the plagiarism in his autobiography, some of which describes his fictitious experience of events he didn’t see.

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