I found the section on Visigothic Spain in Wickham’s The Inheritance of Rome a slog (for some reason, names like Chindasuinth, Recceswinth, and Wamba are hard for me to take seriously, and reading about their endless squabbles makes my eyelids droop — incidentally, you can get lists of all the Germanic rulers of Western Europe in this period, along with maps and mini-essays on related subjects, here), so I thought I’d take a look at a book I’d had sitting around for a couple of decades, Bernard F. Reilly’s The Medieval Spains, to get another perspective on it. I was manfully trying to disentangle the regions, names, and heresies when I hit this passage:

The reader will understand, of course, that to speak of the Visigoths, or any other society, as Christian here implies merely a formal and legal adhesion. It prescinds entirely from a judgment on the spiritual or intellectual character of any individual’s religious assent.

I immediately came to attention: it does what? I turned to the OED and found a perfectly good (if recondite) verb I had been unacquainted with:

prescind, v.

Etymology: < post-classical Latin praescindere to cut off, to shorten by cutting (4th or 5th cent.) < classical Latin prae- pre- prefix + scindere to cut (see scind v.).

1. trans. To cut off beforehand, prematurely, or abruptly; to remove, cut away.
1636 R. Basset tr. G. A. de Paoli Lives Rom. Emperors 20 The brevity of his reigne prescinded many and great hopes of his good government of the whole Empire.
1872 N. Amer. Rev. July 65 Mr. Buckle does not generally care to prescind matters. It is in his nature rather to affect the circumlocutory and vague.
1994 Buffalo (N.Y.) News (Nexis) 28 Nov. 3 If one were to prescind the whole of federal benefits that go to the poor, you’d come up with about $140 billion per year.
2004 National Rev. 56 1 The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court..granted conjugal rights to gays, and the bells tolled, as they did in San Francisco under the patronage of rump political leaders who sought to prescind the law on the question.

2. a. trans. To cut off, detach, or separate from; to abstract from.
1640 J. Sadler Masquarade du Ciel 7 Whether Art or Nature, Sense or Reason, could best separate, abstract, at least prescind, a Sprightly Genius from its Body.
1856 J. F. Ferrier Inst. Metaphysic (ed. 2) . 475 Nor have universal things prescinded from the particular any absolute existence.
1947 M. Lowry Under Volcano iv. 104 The Malebolge was the barranca, the ravine which wound through the country, narrow here—but its momentousness successfully prescinded their minds from the goat.
1996 Wisconsin State Jrnl. (Nexis) 27 July 7 a, Oftentimes it is necessary to prescind the work from the surrounding environment.

3. intr. a. To withdraw attention from; to leave out of consideration; to ignore, put to one side.
1654 T. White Apol. Rushworth’s Dialogues 249 Their very words directly tel him they on purpose resolv’d to prescind from her particular Case, and not determin any thing concerning It in that Decree.
1890 W. S. Lilly Right & Wrong 98 In what I am about to write I prescind entirely from all theological theories and religious symbols.
1977 Times 13 Aug. 14/3 The various denominations..are prescinding from their differences and attending only to those matters about which they are agreed.
2005 Cross Currents (Nexis) 22 Mar. 83 The methods of religious studies generally prescind from any commitment to a particular tradition or any personal self-involvement in a religious path.

b. prescinding from: apart from.
1686 J. Goad Astro-meteorologica i. ii. 6 The Air..must be defin’d, prescinding from all Admistions that are extraneous to it.
1941 Far Eastern Q. 1 87 Prescinding from this misleading treatment of the mission history, the author’s presentation of the Tokugawa Shogunate is most elucidating.
1990 B. Bergon Exploding Eng. (BNC) 145 The last of the Victorian sages, who were men of letters and of affairs, not academics (prescinding from Arnold’s and Ruskin’s marginal tenure of chairs at Oxford).

Although, examining the citations, I see I had not been entirely unacquainted with it, since I read (and loved) Malcolm Lowry’s Under the Volcano years ago; its momentousness must have prescinded my mind from the word as the ravine’s did the characters’ from the goat.


  1. I love that word as well, and for whatever reason, when I could conceivably use it, I usually sit for a moment blocked, trying to think of the word, and then have to pick a less apt alternative because prescind doesn’t come to mind.

  2. David Marjanović says

    As the article says, Wamba was most likely a nickname, so to some extent not meant to be taken seriously.

  3. It’s also the name of a slave and fool (“Wamba son of Witless”) in Ivanhoe. ObLanguageHat quote:

    “The curse of St Withold upon these infernal porkers!” said the swine-herd [Gurth], after blowing his horn obstreperously, to collect together the scattered herd of swine, which, answering his call with notes equally melodious, made, however, no haste to remove themselves from the luxurious banquet of beech-mast and acorns on which they had fattened, or to forsake the marshy banks of the rivulet, where several of them, half plunged in mud, lay stretched at their ease, altogether regardless of the voice of their keeper.

    “The curse of St Withold upon them and upon me!” said Gurth; “if the two-legged wolf snap not up some of them ere nightfall, I am no true man. Here, Fangs! Fangs!” he ejaculated at the top of his voice to a ragged wolfish-looking dog, a sort of lurcher, half mastiff, half greyhound, which ran limping about as if with the purpose of seconding his master in collecting the refractory grunters; but which, in fact, from misapprehension of the swine-herd’s signals, ignorance of his own duty, or malice prepense, only drove them hither and thither, and increased the evil which he seemed to design to remedy.

    “A devil draw the teeth of him,” said Gurth, “and the mother of mischief confound the Ranger of the forest, that cuts the foreclaws off our dogs, and makes them unfit for their trade! Wamba, up and help me an thou be’st a man; take a turn round the back o’ the hill to gain the wind on them; and when thous’t got the weather-gage, thou mayst drive them before thee as gently as so many innocent lambs.”

    “Truly,” said Wamba, without stirring from the spot, “I have consulted my legs upon this matter, and they are altogether of opinion, that to carry my gay garments through these sloughs, would be an act of unfriendship to my sovereign person and royal wardrobe; wherefore, Gurth, I advise thee to call off Fangs, and leave the herd to their destiny, which, whether they meet with bands of travelling soldiers, or of outlaws, or of wandering pilgrims, can be little else than to be converted into Normans before morning, to thy no small ease and comfort.”

    “The swine turned Normans to my comfort!” quoth Gurth; “expound that to me, Wamba, for my brain is too dull, and my mind too vexed, to read riddles.”

    “Why, how call you those grunting brutes running about on their four legs?” demanded Wamba.

    “Swine, fool, swine,” said the herd, “every fool knows that.”

    “And swine is good Saxon,” said the Jester; “but how call you the sow when she is flayed, and drawn, and quartered, and hung up by the heels, like a traitor?”

    “Pork,” answered the swine-herd.

    “I am very glad every fool knows that too,” said Wamba, “and pork, I think, is good Norman-French; and so when the brute lives, and is in the charge of a Saxon slave, she goes by her Saxon name; but becomes a Norman, and is called pork, when she is carried to the Castle-hall to feast among the nobles; what dost thou think of this, friend Gurth, ha?”

    “It is but too true doctrine, friend Wamba, however it got into thy fool’s pate.”

    “Nay, I can tell you more,” said Wamba, in the same tone; “there is old Alderman Ox continues to hold his Saxon epithet, while he is under the charge of serfs and bondsmen such as thou, but becomes Beef, a fiery French gallant, when he arrives before the worshipful jaws that are destined to consume him. Mynheer Calf, too, becomes Monsieur de Veau in the like manner; he is Saxon when he requires tendance, and takes a Norman name when he becomes matter of enjoyment.”

    “Refractory grunters” is good.

  4. In Spain, everybody who was born before 1961 and studied at Secondary school had to learn the list of 33 Visigothic Kings of Spain. It was a nightmare for most of them. Fortunately my generation could prescind of this memory test.

  5. David Marjanović says

    *facepalm* German Wampe “big belly”.

    …Hey. We seem to have a native High German /p/ here. That’s really rare (except behind /s/)!

    the list of 33 Visigothic Kings of Spain

    “How can you become a good citizen if you don’t know the names of the three sons of Chilperic?!?”

  6. David Marjanović says

    Womb has to be a cognate, too. I’ll stop here, or I’ll sit here all night…

  7. >David Marjanovic
    I still think about Felipe as a prince. From 718 to our days we have had 143 kings in Spain, most of them before the existence of our country.
    As an anecdote, I had a children’s deck of card whose motif was the Visigothic Kings so I learnt some names but not in order. I don’t know anybody who has been baptized with those names.

  8. To me Chilperic is the surname of a Dorothy L. Sayers character. Never knew he was a king.

  9. The Italian author Luigi Bertelli used the pen-name Vamba, after the jester in Ivanhoe. His story Ciondolino, about a boy turned into an ant, has been a great favorite of mine since I was 9 or so.

  10. “Prescindere” is very common in Italian, and it would make my life easier as a translator if I could just use “prescind” all the time. But alas.

  11. Jeffry House says

    As a youth, I was made to learn the “kongerekke” or “Kings’ row” of Norway. There were two cheats: first, early Norse Kings were followed by their sons, so Magnus would often be followed by Magnusson. More importantly, during the period of Danish rule, King Christian was followed by King Frederik, followed by King Christian again, for fully four hundred years. While the Roman numerals were a bit off (Christian II might be followed by Frederick I) you could be sure that Christian III and Frederik II were next at the plate. And the alternating sequence continued till 1814.

    The Visigoths could have profited by this system, but did not. Thus, their kingdoms lie in ruins.

  12. “Prescindere” is very common in Italian

    That reminded me of a Spanish word still floating around in the recesses of my wordhoard from my time in Argentina: imprescindible ‘essential, indispensible’ (Nadie es imprescindible ‘Nobody is indispensible’). At last I know where it comes from!

  13. My dictionary tells me there’s also a verb prescindir de ‘to do without,’ but that seems to have left no trace in my memory.

  14. Wasn’t it de Gaulle who said something along the lines of “Les cimetières sont pleins de gens indispensables”?

  15. The Malebolge was the barranca, the ravine which wound through the country, narrow here—but its momentousness successfully prescinded their minds from the goat.

    What a sentence!

  16. Lowry was a wonderful writer.

  17. “As the article says, Wamba was most likely a nickname, so to some extent not meant to be taken seriously.”

    I wonder if Wembley was named after a Saxon with some form of that nickname.

  18. Apparently yes, per Wikipedia.

  19. Jeffry, you left off the punch line: that after Christian, Frederick, Christian, Frederick, Christian, Frederick, Christian, Frederick, Christian, Frederick, Christian, Frederick, the new king who broke the sequence was named Christian Frederick.

  20. Assuming that the British royal succession continues as expected, and that distinct regnal names have gone out of style, we’re at the start of a sequence of prime number monarchs: Elizabeth II, Charles III, William V and George VII.

  21. “Prescind from”. OK the words exist, but it’s a very lazy translation. If I didn’t get sacked for that, it would at least be “called to my attention”,.

  22. But who will be XI ? There’s never been a X of any of them. Lazar predicts the fall of the British monarchy. All hail Lazar, protector of the British republic – hang on, haven’t we been here before?

  23. @Jeffry — you will have noticed, I hope, that we have taken steps to rectify the numbering mishap. Barring unforeseen events, Margrethe II will be followed by Frederik X and then Christian XI. (But of course they won’t be Kings of Norway).

  24. David Marjanović says

    Assuming that the British royal succession continues as expected, and that distinct regnal names have gone out of style

    I once read they haven’t, and Prince Charles is going to be George VII already. No idea if there’s any truth to that.

  25. Yes, I never heard that distinct regnal names have gone out of style; when did that happen?

  26. David Marjanović says


    Oh – look at that, it says SVINθVS on one of his coins.

    That’s fascinating.

  27. Prince Charles Philip Arthur George is keeping his options open when it comes to regnal names, but George VII looks pretty likely; the last two Georges, his grandfather (born Albert) and his great-grandfather were popular. Charles III would associate him with some unfortunate events and people, and Philip is tied to some less than savory kings of France and Spain (if you’re English, that is). Arthur — well, can’t blame him for not being up for that.

  28. Oh – look at that, it says SVINθVS on one of his coins.

    And somebody isn’t very good at reading inscriptions; the legend says:

    +CN•SVINLVS PX, facing bust
    +ISPLLIS PIVS, facing bust.

    …but it’s clearly ISPALIS (=Hispalis, ‘Seville’), and of course SVINLVS should be SVINθVS; furthermore, I suspect CN should be CH (for CHinda).

  29. >”a book I’d had sitting around for a couple of decades”

    THIS. This nearly made me weep with recognition.

  30. People don’t understand. They say “If you haven’t looked at a book in a year, get rid of it!” They have no concept that a book is waiting to serve a purpose, and it may have to wait decades to do so. I still regret certain books that I got rid of years ago under the impression that I would never read them or want to look at them again, only to discover I had been wrong.

  31. Wamba/Vamba

    I came across Gorvömb some 20 years ago when I tried to learn some Icelandic. That didn’t go well, as there were too few dictionaries and other stuff available online at the time.
    Cleasby–Vigfusson defines it as follows:
    gorvömb (f) the first stomach, Ísl. ii. 375.


    From Proto-Germanic *wambō.

    IPA(key): /vœmp/

    Rhymes: -œmp


    vömb f (genitive singular vambar, nominative plural vambir)

    1. belly, abdomen
    2. stomach (especially that of ruminants)



    From Proto-Indo-European *gʷʰer- (“warm; hot”).

    IPA(key): /ˈɣu.rɑ̃/


    *gurą n

    1. half-digested stomach contents
    2. manure; dung; feces
    3. filth; muck

    I wonder what the Old English was for ‘first stomach’.

    A Russian translation of Gorvömb is available here.
    Icelandic isn’t among the languages DeepL can handle, and GT has produced this:

    Once upon a time there was a king and a queen in their kingdom; they had one son and one daughter. Their daughter was a good-natured girl, but her son was in a bad mood and the most nasty.

    Time passed and the king began to grow old, but his son is bored for how long he lives and finally he realizes that he is killing his parents and his sister. The king’s son now gets the kingdom from his father and wants to get married, but it does not go well for him because of the reputation of the one who left him. Eventually, however, he gets a wife when a long time has passed. Their intercourse is mentioned only in that they had the daughter of one child named Ingibjörg; she was superior to other women for the sake of beauty and beauty.

  32. Gorvömb is another very silly name.

  33. Well, it’s not exactly a human name:

    Тут к ним подкатилось нечто чудное, требушина не требушина, не поймешь что, и закричало:​‌‌​‌‌​ ​‌​‌‌‌‌ ​​​‌​‌ ​​​‌‌‌ ​​‌​‌‌ ​‌​​​‌ ​​‌​‌​ ​​‌​‌‌ ​‌​​​‌ ​​​‌‌​ ​​‌‌​‌ ​‌​​​‌ ​​​‌‌‌ ​​‌‌​‌ ​‌​​‌‌ ​‌​‌​‌​ ​‌‌​‌‌​ ​‌‌‌​‌‌ ​​‌‌‌‌

    — Выбери меня! Выбери меня! Выбери меня!​‌‌​‌‌​ ​‌​‌‌‌‌ ​​​‌​‌ ​​​‌‌‌ ​​‌​‌‌ ​‌​​​‌ ​​‌​‌​ ​​‌​‌‌ ​‌​​​‌ ​​​‌‌​ ​​‌‌​‌ ​‌​​​‌ ​​​‌‌‌ ​​‌‌​‌ ​‌​​‌‌ ​‌​‌​‌​ ​‌‌​‌‌​ ​‌‌‌​‌‌ ​​‌‌‌‌

    — Зачем мне эта требушина? — удивилась королева.​‌‌​‌‌​ ​‌​‌‌‌‌ ​​​‌​‌ ​​​‌‌‌ ​​‌​‌‌ ​‌​​​‌ ​​‌​‌​ ​​‌​‌‌ ​‌​​​‌ ​​​‌‌​ ​​‌‌​‌ ​‌​​​‌ ​​​‌‌‌ ​​‌‌​‌ ​‌​​‌‌ ​‌​‌​‌​ ​‌‌​‌‌​ ​‌‌‌​‌‌ ​​‌‌‌‌

    — Возьми, не пожалеешь, — сказала хозяйка. — Ее зовут Горвёмб .​‌‌​‌‌​ ​‌​‌‌‌‌ ​​​‌​‌ ​​​‌‌‌ ​​‌​‌‌ ​‌​​​‌ ​​‌​‌​ ​​‌​‌‌ ​‌​​​‌ ​​​‌‌​ ​​‌‌​‌ ​‌​​​‌ ​​​‌‌‌ ​​‌‌​‌ ​‌​​‌‌ ​‌​‌​‌​ ​‌‌​‌‌​ ​‌‌‌​‌‌ ​​‌‌‌‌

    Источник: ​‌‌​‌‌​ ​‌​‌‌‌‌ ​​​‌​‌ ​​​‌‌‌ ​​‌​‌‌ ​‌​​​‌ ​​‌​‌​ ​​‌​‌‌ ​‌​​​‌ ​​​‌‌​ ​​‌‌​‌ ​‌​​​‌ ​​​‌‌‌ ​​‌‌​‌ ​‌​​‌‌ ​‌​‌​‌​ ​‌‌​‌‌​ ​‌‌‌​‌‌ ​​‌‌‌‌

  34. ktschwarz says

    I wonder what the Old English was for ‘first stomach’.

    The kind of question the Historical Thesaurus of English was made for! Alas, the answer is, we don’t know: the thesaurus has nothing older than paunch (1400s, from French) for the specific sense of “first stomach of a ruminant; the rumen”. Womb could mean stomach in Old English, but the OED doesn’t indicate any specialized use of it for any particular stomach of a ruminant.

    Other non-Latinate words found in the OED and HTE for specific stomachs of a ruminant:

    maw, inherited from Germanic: “The stomach of an animal … Formerly also: spec. †the abomasum or fourth stomach of a ruminant (obsolete).”

    feck, origin unknown, first recorded 1681: “Now English regional (south-eastern) and rare. One of the stomachs of a ruminant; esp. the rumen.”

    reed, inherited from Germanic, “Now regional and technical. Originally: (perhaps) the stomach. In later use spec.: the abomasum or fourth stomach of a ruminant. The precise meaning of the word in Old English is unclear. …”

    manyplies, formed within English by compounding, first recorded in this sense 1782: “Chiefly Scottish. … The omasum or third stomach of a ruminant. Now archaic.”

    feleferþ, recorded only in Old English glossaries, glossing Latin centumpellis; fela is Old English for ‘many’, so probably equivalent to manyplies.

    It wouldn’t be too surprising if Old English butchers did have a specific word, like foremaw or something, but it just didn’t get recorded.

  35. The English Dialect Dictionary has more, though mostly more recent, plus many regional terms for a calf’s stomach, used for making rennet.

  36. I would have guessed that the Old English terms were the pair craw and maw for the fore and hind parts of the upper digestive systems (with the dividing line depending on the type of creature, so that the craw would probably include the first stomach on a ruminant). However, while craw looks old, it is not documented until Wycliffite. Per the OED:

    Etymology: Middle English crawe, representing an unrecorded Old English *craga, cognate with Old High German chrago, Middle High German krage, Dutch kraag neck, throat; or else a later Norse krage, Danish krave in same sense. The limitation of sense in English is special to this language.

    That “limitation in sense” is that when the word first shows up in Middle English, it only seems to be used for the crops of birds, before broadening in sense again by early Modern English.

    1. The crop (crop n. 1) of birds or insects.
    1388 Bible (Wycliffite, L.V.) 2 Kings vi. 25 The crawe of culueris. Margin, In Latyn it is seid of the drit of culuers; but drit is..takun here..for the throte, where cornes, etun of culueris, ben gaderid.
    c1440 Promptorium Parvulorum 101 Craw, or crowpe of a byrde, or oþer fowlys, gabus, vesicula.
    1552 R. Huloet Abcedarium Anglico Latinum Craye or gorge of a byrde, ingluuies.
    1565–78 T. Cooper Thesaurus Chelidonii..Little stones in the crawe of a swallow.
    1604 M. Drayton Owle sig. B 2ᵛ The Crane..With sand and grauell burthening his crawe.
    1774 Hunter in Philos. Trans. (Royal Soc.) 64 313 Some birds, with gizzards, have a craw or crop also, which serves as a reservoir, and for softening the grain.
    1854 W. M. Thackeray Newcomes (1855) II. iv. 35 Such an agitation of plumage, redness of craw, and anger of manner, as a maternal hen shows.
    1855 H. W. Longfellow Hiawatha viii. 108 Till their craws are full with feasting.

    2. transferred.
    a. The stomach (of a person or animal). ihumorous or derisive.
    1574 A. Anderson Expos. Hymne Benedictus f. 43 To gorge their crawes with bibbing cheare.
    1581 J. Bell tr. W. Haddon & J. Foxe Against Jerome Osorius 320 b Stuffing their crawes with most exquisite vyandes.
    1791 J. Wolcot Remonstr. in Wks. (1812) II. 449 They smite their hungry craws.
    1823 Ld. Byron Don Juan: Canto VIII xlix. 135 As tigers combat with an empty craw.

    b. to cast the craw: to vomit. Obsolete.
    a1529 J. Skelton Tunnyng of Elynour Rummyng in Certayne Bks. (?1545) 489 Such a bedfellow Would make one cast his craw.

    (I’m not entirely convinced that cast one’s craw is obsolete. I know I’ve encountered it before, almost certainly in works more recent than the sixteenth century.)

  37. PlasticPaddy says

    The only craw word i am familiar with is a crawthumper, a very publically devout person (usually male).

  38. PlasticPaddy says

    The only craw word i am familiar with is a crawthumper, a very publically devout person (usually male).

  39. @PlasticPaddy: The OED has a sub-entry for that compund, although it was unfamiliar to me. It says:

    n. slang one who beats his breast (at confession); applied derisively to Roman Catholic devotees.
    1786 ‘P. Pindar’ Lyric Odes for 1785 (new ed.) vii. 22 We are no Craw-thumpers, no Devotees.
    1873 Slang Dict. Craw thumper, a Roman Catholic. Compare Brisket-beater.

    Was devotee a euphemism for “Papist”? And brisket-beater?

  40. Oh, and I forgot to mention that craw is still somewhat associated in my mind with this Craw Wurm that was in my Magic: The Gathering starter deck.

  41. J.W. Brewer says

    The Google books corpus has a scan of the 1788 edition of Grose’s Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, which has “BRISKET BEATER. A Roman catholic. See BREAST FLEET, and CRAW THUMPER.”*

    More detail is given in the entry for one of the synonyms: “BREAST FLEET. He or she belongs to the breast fleet ; i.e. is a Roman catholic ; an appellation derived from their custom of beating their breasts in the confession of their sins.”

    *The immediately-following entry is BRISTOL MILK, a synonym for sherry, supposedly from the reputed tendency of residents of Bristol to drink it in quantity at breakfast-time. This of course evokes the still-extant Harvey’s Bristol Cream brand.

  42. @J.W. Brewer: So, that’s where the name cream sherry comes from! I have always found it mystifying.

    Incidentally, the OED does not a subsidiary entry for brisket beater; however, the relevant sense of brisket is there, although the entry could be a lot more complete.

    The breast of an animal, the part immediately covering the breast-bone. Also, as a joint of meat.

    b. Scottish. The human breast.
    a1774 R. Fergusson Poems (1785) 224 Their glancin een and bisket bare.
    1790 D. Morison Poems 15 Wi’ kilted coats, White legs and briskets bare.

  43. J.W. Brewer says

    @Brett: Well, that’s what Grose says, but I wouldn’t necessarily assume that it’s historically reliable rather than a jocular folk-etymology he passed on. There are certainly other dairy-metaphor names for types of alcoholic beverage (e.g. cream ale, Liebfraumilch) that don’t come packaged with a “because those sots over there drink it for breakfast” explanation.

  44. Brett: I’ve never been into MtG, but some some friends of mine have been, and I’ve never been able to decipher the complicated rules, even after all those decades. (Not that ever actually tried). I think I remember that particular card, though.

  45. David Marjanović says

    And thanks to Kragen “collar”, it dawns on me that the German cognate of maw isn’t Maul “mouth of nonhuman vertebrates, or dysphemistically of humans”, but Magen “stomach” (just the organ, not “belly” in general).

    feck, origin unknown, first recorded 1681: “Now English regional (south-eastern) and rare. One of the stomachs of a ruminant; esp. the rumen.”

    Oh, so feckless parallels gutless

  46. No, that feck is short for effeck = effect.

  47. Magen




    maha (“belly”) +‎ laukku (“bag”)

    IPA(key): /ˈmɑhɑˌlɑu̯kːu/, [ˈmɑɦɑˌlɑu̯kːu]
    Rhymes: -ɑukːu
    Syllabification: ma‧ha‧lauk‧ku



    1. (anatomy) stomach (digestive organ)

  48. Trond Engen says

    In Norwegian the first stomach of a ruminan is vom f., then nettmage m., bladmage m., and finally løype m.

    Vom f. looks very much like an ancient term. It’s also a colloquial word for fat belly. I can’t say which came first, but jocular extension of terms for animal anatomy to humans is common enough.

    Nettmage and bladmage looks like miodern tecnical coinages based on their anatomical properties.

    Løype (or løpe) is used both for the final stomach and for the semi-digested milk that settles there — especially in calves — and which is used as a cheese starter. There’s also a verb løype (or løpe) “make milk settle into cheese”. Otherwise løype v. means “let something move down freely but in a controlled fashion”. I think the stomach term must be from a distinctly different meaning of the word, the metaphorical use for a transition from one condition to another that we know from Eng. leap.

  49. David Marjanović says

    Pansen, Netzmagen, Blättermagen, Labmagen, where Lab “rennet” has nothing to do with laufen “run”, including auslaufen “flow out slowly”.

    …and the article on maha says that’s indeed a borrowing from a cognate of Magen.

    Back in 2015…

    Womb has to be a cognate, too. I’ll stop here, or I’ll sit here all night…

    ..and then I actually did stop. Remarkable.

    I remember continuing in some other thread at some point, but for the sake of having it all in one spot: 1) of course it’s cognate; 2) the expected German form is actually Wamme, which exists somewhere in Germany; 3) but actually, on first principles you’d expect every Proto-Germanic [b] – the actual plosive allophone – to become a High German [p], and it’s really strange that Wampe is one of only two or three words where that actually seems to have happened.

  50. maha

    There is also saha = ‘saw’ (chainsaw, hacksaw, etc)


    Borrowed from Old Swedish sagh, see Proto-Germanic *sagō.

    IPA(key): /ˈsɑhɑ/, [ˈs̠ɑɦɑ]
    Rhymes: -ɑhɑ
    Syllabification: sa‧ha



    1. saw (tool)
    2. sawmill (plant, production facility)
    3. (music) musical saw (musical instrument)

  51. Lars Mathiesen says

    Cows have a vom (rumen). Also people have them, it’s a deprecative term for a fat gut — but you’re saying it was originally a pregnant belly?

  52. David Marjanović says

    Me? I have no idea. Given the king on the East Germanic side, the dysphemism for a fat belly may well be the oldest meaning, though; that’s the one that remains in German.

  53. PlasticPaddy says

    In PG there is *stumpaz and *stubbaz. Would you say
    (a) coincidence?
    (b) one of these is wrong?
    (c) there were some bb/mp doublets already in PG?

  54. Trond Engen says


    That’s the word. And looking at it, it strikes me that it’s related to ‘run’. Etymonline says:

    probably from an unrecorded Old English *rynet, related to gerennan “cause to run together,” because it makes milk run or curdle; from Proto-Germanic *rannijanan, causative of *renwanan “to run” (from PIE root *rei- “to run, flow”). Compare German rinnen “to run,” gerinnen “to curdle.” Hence, “anything used to curdle milk.”

    Which is just about exactly what could be said about Norw. løype except that the base verb is the “leap” word.

    For the sense “change state”, Norw. also has a word anløpe “tarnish (of metals)”*. The prefix makes it obvious that it’s a borrowing, presumably from LG through Danish. I want to add another meaning “start to turn sour (of dairy)”, but this is unknown to my Norwegian dictionary and even to Google. I’m pretty sure my mother used it though.

  55. anløpe “tarnish (of metals)”*. The prefix makes it obvious that it’s a borrowing, presumably from LG through Danish.
    The Standard German is X anlaufen “to turn X”, with X being a colour term; the implications are sudenness and spoiling, like blau anlaufen “turning blue” (when asphyxiating) or (schwarz) anlaufen “turning black” of silverware.

  56. The prefix makes it obvious that it’s a borrowing

    A sentence that has stuck in my mind from my attempts to tackle Icelandic is:
    Það er enga atvinnu að fá. ‘There is no job/employment to be had.’ (For some reason I always want to say engin.)
    And atvinna is clearly að + vinna:

  57. Trond Engen says

    @Hans: Yes. The basic meaning must be something like “arrive at”. Norw. has borrowed anløpe also in the meaning “call at a port (of ships)”. M/S Eirik Raude anløper Bergen hver tirsdag og fredag kl. 07.30. “M/S Eirik Raude calls at Bergen every Tuesday and Friday at 7:30 AM.”

  58. David Marjanović says

    In PG there is *stumpaz and *stubbaz.

    Also *stuppa- and *stuffa- and *stuba- (or perhaps *stufa-) and *stūba- (or perhaps *stūfa-) and *stūpa- and even *stubna-. It’s a Kluge mess (p. 286f.). Add a nasal-infixed present verb form, and you’ve explained *stumpa- as well. (A verb *stubba- exists.)

  59. David M: Labmagen, where Lab “rennet” has nothing to do with laufen “run”

    OED cross-references rennet to cheeselip, “Now rare (English regional (Yorkshire and Lincolnshire) in later use)”, where they have this to say about its relationship to the German word:

    Compare the similarly-formed Middle High German kæselap (German Käselab ) < kæse cheese n.1 + lap rennet (Old High German lab ; German Lab ; < an ablaut variant of the Germanic base of lib n.1).

    The motivation for use of lib n.1 and related words (originally with the senses ‘drug, potion, magic, sorcery’, etc.) to denote this substance in the Germanic languages is uncertain; it has variously been explained as arising from the magical properties with which such coagulants may initially have been thought to have been invested, and as a reflection of the fact that herbal preparations may have been used for this purpose …

    Also, Wiktionary says that Danish for rennet is osteløbe, and ost is cheese; I hadn’t known that the Latin-derived cheese didn’t make it into North Germanic.

  60. I hadn’t known that the Latin-derived cheese didn’t make it into North Germanic.

    But ost is cognate with a Latin word.

  61. David Marjanović says

    I see Wamba, king of the Visigoths, and raise Bubba, duke of the Frisians.

  62. Ubba, one of the commanders of the Great Heathen Army, probably belonged to a group of Vikings who had settled in Frisia. Some sources identify him as duke of the Frisians also.

  63. January First-of-May says

    And somebody isn’t very good at reading inscriptions; the legend says:

    +CN•SVINLVS PX, facing bust
    +ISPLLIS PIVS, facing bust.

    …but it’s clearly ISPALIS (=Hispalis, ‘Seville’), and of course SVINLVS should be SVINθVS; furthermore, I suspect CN should be CH (for CHinda).

    In fact the original listing says +CN•SVINΛVS PX and +ISPΛLIS PIVS, with two lambdas; but that particular site apparently makes the lambdas via Symbol font or something, so they get copied as L.

    The second lambda is presumably trying to represent a crossbar-less A; a better Unicode symbol for that would be Ʌ – that is, U+0245 LATIN CAPITAL LETTER TURNED V – but I suppose they used what they could easily access. I can’t figure out what’s up with the first lambda, though… the letter on the coin is clearly a theta.

    As for CH versus CN, I agree about CH making more sense in context, and looking at the strokes that’s what it looks like as well, but at first glance that H looks enough like a N that I can see where the misreading came from.

  64. @Hat (from the o.p.) I turned to the OED and found a perfectly good (if recondite) verb I had been unacquainted with:

    I note in the definitions Hat cites, there are multiple equivalent and more familiar words,

    1. (intransitive, with from) To abstract (from); to dismiss from consideration.
    2. (transitive) To pay exclusive attention to.

    Related terms
    * prescission

    Abstract Noun
    prescission from would then be sense 1.
    prescission simpliciter would then be ?? ambiguous: dismissing from consideration; or paying attention to ??

    These contrary senses for the same word puts it in the same category as sanction — skunked [not that I would usually cite Garner].

    Homophone: precision

    From the style guides of several of AntC’s employers [summarised **]:

    * If your audience would have to turn to a dictionary, avoid that word. (Typically they won’t, and will try to ‘wing it’.)
    * If it’s a sound-alike or a spelling-alike for another abstruse word, especially avoid it.

    * OTOH if the word is a term of art with a domain-specific meaning that would be understood by your audience and with no adequate equivalent, be careful to specify you are using it in that sense; avoid using it in any other sense (its ‘general/non-specialist meaning’) within the same document.

    Because: you are trying to get a message/analysis/complex idea across. Anything that sidetracks your audience will detract from your writing’s impact.

    [**] I would have especially liked to quote the exact form of the advice from my favourite writing guide, that I’d used ever since I worked as a technical writer/systems designer. (Now out of print.) Lost in the 2011 Christchurch earthquake: we were not allowed to return and retrieve anything from the office.

  65. Keith Ivey says

    Homophone: precision

    Surely prescission has /ʃ/, whereas precision has /ʒ/.

  66. 2. (transitive) To pay exclusive attention to.

    There is no such sense. I see you’re quoting it from Wiktionary, but that’s bullshit — some officious Wiktionutcase has misunderstood a quotation from William Hamilton (and note that said nutcase does not seem to understand that Henry Longueville Mansel and John Veitch are two different editors, not to mention that there would seem to be no reason to mention the editors in the first place). If you read the woolly and almost incomprehensible passage from which that nugget of prose is extracted, you will see that Hamilton is making some sort of point analogous to not being able to not think of a pink elephant, so that not to pay attention is really to pay attention. It does not in any way say or imply that the meaning of the verb prescind is “To pay exclusive attention to,” and if I were a Wiktionary editor I would delete the alleged sense 2. Nobody has ever used prescind that way or ever will, so your supposed “contrary senses for the same word” are nonexistent. Not to mention that, as Keith Ivey says, prescission and precision are not homophones.

  67. PlasticPaddy says

    This paper may be relevant:
    Jo Verhoeven, Allen Hirson & Kavya Basavar

    I do not know of a similar study for Ireland, but I believe I have heard medial z devoiced to s (this is unremarkable for final s in many other dialects of English).

  68. That’s as may be, but the words are not homophones in standard English. If we’re going to let every dialect influence our definition, there are going to be a whole lot of homophones.

  69. @Keith, @Hat thank you for the corrections.

    err, yes that was wikipedia. (I’d first tried etymonline, but too obscure for it.)

    prescission and precision are not homophones.

    Aren’t they? I’ve never heard the former pronounced. I think neither would have my hypothetical audience. My dead trees dictionary [Chambers 1972] says of ‘precision’: “partly connected with prescission“, citing Berkeley.

    Hat’s o.p. doesn’t give much of a definition for prescind from, which is why I was casting around. (And that was the usage of interest in another place.) The quotes for that sense don’t help.

    Too hard. I give up.

  70. Jen in Edinburgh says

    I don’t know. No-one else puts it in exactly those words, but the OED has ‘To cut off, detach, or separate from; to abstract from’, M-W has ‘to detach for purposes of thought’, and Collins has ‘to isolate, remove, or separate, as for special consideration’.

    The impression I’m left with is that while ‘prescind’ always means separating one thing from its background, you can do so either in order to consider the background without being distracted by the thing, or to consider the Thing without being distracted by the background. And Hamilton certainly makes more sense if you read him as meaning the latter!

  71. Thanks @Jen.

    I continue to think there are plenty equivalent and more familiar words, such that using ‘prescind’ in an informal blog (even a language-focussed blog, excepting where it is the explicit subject of discussion) is some sort of willfulness/contrarianism. I shall file ‘prescind’ in the dustbin of memory.

    either in order to consider the background without being distracted by the thing, or to consider the Thing without being distracted by the background.

    Kinda like that optical illusion with two faces in profile staring into each others’ eyes; or is it one vase in the middle? Gestalt.

    I feel the later Wittgenstein would have handled it better than Hamilton.

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