Wordsmith.org: the magic of words

Wordsmith Talk

About Us | What's New | Search | Site Map | Contact Us  

Page 1 of 2 1 2 >
Topic Options
#204922 - 02/27/12 07:02 AM Capricious etymology (double-entendre intended)
talesoftrivia Offline
stranger

Registered: 11/14/11
Posts: 6
I was amazed to see "capricious" derived from "head of a hedgehog", and to see Merriam Webster present that origin, with a "perhaps". The OED agrees with what I'd always thought, that it's from "capra", Latin for "goat"--well, OED comes through the Italian: "Italian capriccio sudden start, motion, or freak, apparently < capro goat, as if ‘the skip or frisk of a goat’".

Note: the etymology in the on-line OED dead-ends with a "see above" as though you were reading the paper dictionary. I looked at "caprice", which lead me to "capriccio", to get to the derivation above.

Top
#204923 - 02/27/12 07:27 AM Re: Capricious etymology (double-entendre intended) [Re: talesoftrivia]
Faldage Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/01/00
Posts: 13803
So, basically, there's two theories and the proponents of each are uncertain that theirs is correct.

Top
#204924 - 02/27/12 08:20 AM Re: Capricious etymology (double-entendre intended) [Re: talesoftrivia]
tsuwm Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 04/03/00
Posts: 10525
Loc: this too shall pass
not sure where you're looking, but W3 gives Etymology: Italian capriccioso and M-W online (11th edition) points to caprice, which has French, from Italian capriccio caprice, shudder, perhaps from capo head (from Latin caput) + riccio hedgehog, from Latin ericius (AHD4 agrees with this, no perhaps)

W3 glosses caprice with: basic meaning: head with hair standing on end, hence, horror, shivering, then (after Italian capra goat), whim

anyways, capriciously speaking, this is all somewhat remindful of a hedgehog! (Dinsdale!)

Top
#204931 - 02/27/12 11:20 AM Re: Capricious etymology (double-entendre intended) [Re: talesoftrivia]
pete saussy Offline
stranger

Registered: 07/28/09
Posts: 4
Loc: waccamaw neck
i go with the goat. hedgehogs are not capricious, just ask my cat. goats on the other hand are quite notably so. one doesn't frisk in fear but in excess of hormones and energy, characteristics not well presented by hedgehogs. i suspect the chevrolet eponyfiers had the goat in mind for their otherwise sedate sedan caprice.

Top
#204933 - 02/27/12 02:24 PM Re: Capricious etymology (double-entendre intended) [Re: pete saussy]
BranShea Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 06/23/06
Posts: 5283
Loc: Netherlands, the Hague
Ha, I see the discussion is already on. I just wanted to ask if anyone could explain the connection between capricious behaviour and having hair standing on end.

I vote for the goat. Hedgehogs don't even have ordinary hair. I'd call them spines.
(Hedgehogs are easily recognized by their spines, which are hollow hairs made stiff with keratin.)

Top
#204934 - 02/27/12 02:37 PM Re: Capricious etymology (double-entendre intended) [Re: pete saussy]
sls4ak Offline
stranger

Registered: 02/27/12
Posts: 1
Absolutely goat is the origin of the word, the further that we move from our agrarian roots, the more that silly etymologies are posited and believed. One need only know goats to understand that capricious is goat like in behavior. Hedgehog references are overreaching. Capricorn - capricious there is no need to look to riccio to get there.

Top
#204936 - 02/27/12 06:03 PM Re: Capricious etymology (double-entendre intended) [Re: talesoftrivia]
Faldage Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/01/00
Posts: 13803
Etymologies can take funny turns. Whore and charity come from the same root. The idea that goats are capricious is just as likely to be used as evidence of the notion that the goat etymology is a folk etymology. If the experts aren't sure I'm not sure.

Top
#204942 - 02/28/12 03:31 AM Re: Capricious etymology (double-entendre intended) [Re: Faldage]
BranShea Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 06/23/06
Posts: 5283
Loc: Netherlands, the Hague
Capricious hairsplitting. A folk etymology is still an etymology.
Lets meet on Capri all of us to find out the thruth. smile

Top
#204945 - 02/28/12 06:21 AM Re: Capricious etymology (double-entendre intended) [Re: BranShea]
Faldage Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/01/00
Posts: 13803
Originally Posted By: BranShea
A folk etymology is still an etymology.


For some small values of etymology.

Top
#204950 - 02/28/12 10:24 AM Re: Capricious etymology (double-entendre intended) [Re: Faldage]
tsuwm Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 04/03/00
Posts: 10525
Loc: this too shall pass
sometimes vanishingly small; e.g., see hooker.

Top
Page 1 of 2 1 2 >

Moderator:  Jackie 
Forum Stats
8767 Members
16 Forums
13813 Topics
216121 Posts

Max Online: 3341 @ 12/09/11 02:15 PM
Newest Members
malagachica, Jamie, pr3sedentedonut, sleeper54, AnnD
8767 Registered Users
Who's Online
0 registered (), 23 Guests and 4 Spiders online.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Top Posters (30 Days)
endymion6 113
LukeJavan8 108
wofahulicodoc 98
AlimaeHP 14
Tromboniator 9
tsuwm 2
sleeper54 1
BranShea 1
wsieber 1
Storymom 1
Top Posters
wwh 13858
Faldage 13803
Jackie 11610
tsuwm 10525
Buffalo Shrdlu 7210
LukeJavan8 6778
AnnaStrophic 6511
Wordwind 6296
of troy 5400
BranShea 5283

Disclaimer: Wordsmith.org is not responsible for views expressed on this site. Use of this forum is at your own risk and liability - you agree to hold Wordsmith.org and its associates harmless as a condition of using it.

Home | Today's Word | Yesterday's Word | Subscribe | FAQ | Archives | Search | Feedback
Wordsmith Talk | Wordsmith Chat

© 2014 Wordsmith