R: indoeuropean/hand

Paolo Agostini pagos at bigfoot.com
Sun Aug 8 19:46:37 UTC 1999

On 08 August 1999 09:54 Rick Mc Callister <rmccalli at sunmuw1.MUW.Edu> wrote:

>Various researchers link ides/-idus to Etruscan

>*itu- "Ides" < "to divide" [az96: 25; g/lb83, pa, dep]
>see Latin gloss idus, itus, ituare [az96: 25; g/lb83]
>see ituna [mp68]
>itus "middle" [g/lb83, lb 90, mp 75]

>see Latin ides [g/lb83, lb 90, mp 75]

The Romans called _idus_  (from a former _*eidus_) the 15th day of the
months of March, May, July, and October and the 13th day of the other
months. If memory serves me well, it was the lexicographer Hesychius of
Alexandria who wrote in the 5th century "the verb _iduo_ originates from the
language of the Etruscans, from whom the Romans learned many religious rites
and customs, and it means _to divide_ because the _ides_ divide the months
in two halves". In the 5th century though Etruscan was a dead language since
three centuries at least.

At the end of last century there were some scholars who maintained that the
word originated from IE _*idh_ "to be bright" (of the moon), yet the idea
was soon abandoned. Among the IE languages, the base occurs in Latin only.

The word is very likely a Semitic borrowing, from the base `WD
('ayin-waw-daleth) the meaning of which is "to return (every year or
periodically); to repeat (cycle, period); to count, reckon", cfr. Aramaic
_'yidb'_ "festival";  Syriac _'eyda'_ and _'eyada'_ "ceremony, usage";
Hebrew _'yid_ "Idolatrous festival" and _'ed_ "monthly courses,
menstruation";  Arabic _'id_ "festival" and _'iddah_ "period of time",
_'adda_ "he counted/reckoned", _'adad, 'idad, 'idda_ "number", _`a:da_
"custom, tradition". There is also a secondary form of the same verb, i.e.
'TD ('ayin-thaw-daleth) "he counted/reckoned" from which Latin forms like
_ituo_ might derive.

According to the meaning of the Semitic base, the Latin word _*eidus_ simply
meant "a period of time; a counted number of days; a day that returns every

Latin has a number of Semitic loan-words which are due to areal contacts,
cfr. _cornu_ "horn" from Semitic _qarnu_ "horn"; _taurus_ (and Greek
_tauros_) "bull" from Semitic _tawr_ of s.m.; _vacca_ "cow" from Semitic
_*baqa_ of s.m. etc. It also has a number of words of Egyptian origin, cfr.
Latin _iris_ (and Greek _iris_ "iris; rainbow") from Egyptian _iri_ "eye",
etc.  What I mean is that not every Latin word of obscure origin goes back
to Etruscan ;-)


Paolo Agostini

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