Dingo the Dissident

THE BLOG OF DISQUIET : Qweir Notions in the Armpit of Diogenes by DINGO the DISSIDENT binge-thinker since February 2008.
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Saturday, 3 August 2019

Not many people know

that the word heathen
comes from Latin ethnicus (and ethnica for a female).
Thank you John Updike!


2 comments:

Wofl said...

The reason why 'not many people know' this is that it is wrong.

Heathen and ethnicus are not cognate, though about 1400 ethnicus was once a synonym for "a heathen, pagan, one who is not a Christian or Jew". [presumably also Muslims?]

Ethnic and variants are from Late Latin ethnicus, itself from Greek ethnikos "of or for a nation, national."

Heathen is from Proto-Germanic *haithana-

One step sideways: recent thinking about paganus (also a synonym for 'heathens', whence Modern English pagan) is that this wasn't a reference to a religion associated with dwellers in the countryside but rather the religion of a region.

Thank you Bob!

Wofl said...


See also:

https://aeon.co/essays/why-is-linguistics-such-a-magnet-for-dilettantes-and-crackpots