Fortean Etymology

Vitrius

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#1
I am a linguistics student and presently working a self-assigned course in English etymology. I'm interested in words that seem to have no known origin, worlds which seem to reveal ancient and unwritten languages unrelated to those in which they appear, and the origins of words with bizarre connections. What I want here are those words which follow the last bit.

A famously debated word of such ilk is baphomet, the name of the supposed Templar idol-god. Theories abound; a corrupt form of Muhammed, from Greek meaning baptism in knowledge, and so on. Another one which I haven't seen discussed anywhere is the little spoken-of Mormon "planet where God lives" called "Kolob." The name suspiciously resembles the Hebrew and Arabic words for dog. "Oh hi we to Sirius..." Get those pyramid hats.

Anyone have any strange word origins? I know you all like place names here, so this should be fun.

[Edit] Oh, and I might add lots of old occult type names, like the gazillion Gnostic gods and demons, are worth a look if you like this topic. Seems many of these run along a religious theme.
 

Tezcatlipoca72

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#2
Vitrius said:
A famously debated word of such ilk is baphomet, the name of the supposed Templar idol-god. Theories abound; a corrupt form of Muhammed, from Greek meaning baptism in knowledge, and so on.
I've heard those, and that it was "Sophia" written in a qabalistic code, and that it was a Canaanite god. What are your thoughts on the matter?

Another one which I haven't seen discussed anywhere is the little spoken-of Mormon "planet where God lives" called "Kolob."


Well, the Mormons just made stuff up, didn't they?

Oh, and I might add lots of old occult type names, like the gazillion Gnostic gods and demons, are worth a look if you like this topic. Seems many of these run along a religious theme.


Yes, please do.

I'm very interested in this topic too, but I don't have anything useful to add at the moment.
 

Vitrius

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#3
Yeah, the Sophia connection is one theory. If you take the word "Baphomet" and convert it to Hebrew letters and then apply something called the ATBASH code, a type of Hebrew substitution system, you get something that looks and sounds much like the Greek, Sophia, or wisdom, a wellknown Gnostic deity. It does look compelling, but I may be biased since Hebrew/Arabic is my major academic focus area. The other Greek theory is that it's from words meaning "Baptism into wisdom" or somethign equivalent. Also circumstantially compelling. Of course it may also all be poppycock inventing by anti-Templars, and thus much akin to trying to find a viable etymology for "Chthulhu."

As for Mormons, yes and no. No doubt the myths and doctrines were forged from cultural factors and the personal beliefs of Smith, but the words are almost all clearly taken, sometimes with little or no corruption, from Hebrew. Some examples are names from the Book of Mormon, Amiah, obviously(to the Hebrew student) meaning "My people are of Yah(God)" and Nadi, equally clearly meaning "My wandering." Kolob looks a heck of alot like "Kalebh" meaning "dog." Tempting to point to Sirius as the home of the Mornon God. There is some debate here in my mind, since the Hebrew is pronounced "Kahlev." Kolob, it might be pointed out, even more closely resembles the Arabic for the same, that word being "kalab."

The Gnostic names are vast in number, and alot of them are probably nonesense. But as an etymological linguistics student, I enjoy speculating connections. Some that come to mind are Bero or Belo, coming probably from a Coptic word for "spear," Ildebaoth, coming from either Hebrew for "Child of the abyss" or, more likely, "Child of the Hosts," and the much contested "Iao," which, though probably derived from the Hebrew name for the Toraic God, is also similar to the Coptic word for a donkey, among other things.

Maybe you or others have seen Crowley's personal favorite invocation consisting of names for some great, insible Gnostic deity. It contains an immense litany of bizarre, "barbaric" names, derived from various Near Eastern sources.

I'd hoped this thread would live longer. I guess I forget that not everyone knows about this topic intimately.
 
A

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#4
Vitrius said:
Another one which I haven't seen discussed anywhere is the little spoken-of Mormon "planet where God lives" called "Kolob." The name suspiciously resembles the Hebrew and Arabic words for dog.
And of course, "dog" spelled backwards is "god".

Whereas, "Kolob" spelled backwards would be, "boloK".

Could this have anything to do with the mysterious messenger, "Moroni" one wonders?

And why do they insist on calling themselves, "Mormons" rather than "Morons" ?
 

PeniG

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#5
Y'all be sweet. There's probably Mormons on the board here, y'know, and even if there aren't, there's no need to be rude about sincerely held beliefs that seem baseless to you - certainly not here, of all places! The only reason the origins of Mormonism seem any weirder than the origins of Buddhism, Christianity, or Islam is that they're so recent. Mormons aren't presently engaged in making things up, though Joseph Smith may have been and it's hard for me to look at Brigham Young's life and not become convinced that he was.


Vitrius, etymology is a specialty that it's hard for laymen to contribute to and sound remotely like we know what we're doing. It's not like archeology or math or zoology, which have voluminous, readily-available, popular works in every library. Please throw in the linguistic interpretation of anything you like - it's bound to be fresh and interesting.

The best I can do here is mention that the Atbash Cipher, Baphomet/Sophia, and the Templars feature in November's issue of *Rex Mundi,* from Image Comics, and my husband, who is usually clever at this sort of thing, has so far failed to work out the block of Vigenere substitution code to which Baphomet leads the characters. Pathetic, I know - it's not even my comic...
 

inkedmagiclady

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#7
The Yithian said:
Ok, whats the deal with Abracadabra? Does that drop into this category?
This one actually has a known etymology. I have been racking my brain looking this one up, as I have been studying to find correlations for the Zardoz thread. I came upon the word abracadabra (or a variation as I recall-like"avracadavera" which almost sounds like it contains the word "cadaver") in one of my books in the last week, however I was looking for something else then, and now, of course, I can't find it!!!

I went to the dictionary to see if it could lend any info. (Webster's New World College) It says it is probably of Balkan origin but assumed to be ( think Latin??- the symbol is < LGr) Abraxas cabalistic name of the Almighty.

I am thoroughly interested in this. Although my typing/delivery is not so hot sometimes, my passion for words and their origin is!

[edit] I looked back again because I wanted to be sure of the symbol "LGr" and it says it is "late Greek." not Latin as I thought.[/edit]
 

Vitrius

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#8
The Yithian said:
Ok, whats the deal with Abracadabra? Does that drop into this category?
Yes! In fact, it fits obliquely with Gnostic god names, the title of none other than Abaraxis himself being tenatively linked.

Possible Hebrew origins include:

Ha-b'rakah - The Blessing/Benediction
Abba b'rakah - Father of Blessing
or, Abba barukh - Blessed Father

From Aramaic or Midiaeval Hebrew:

Ab, bar, ruakh ha-khodesh - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

The first three are real possibilities with the latter being a clearer example of Catholic interpolation. The Aramaic "bar" is even strained substituted there for the usual Hebrew "ben" in an other wise totally Hebrew phrase.

The phrase was adopted from Jewish practices by gentiles in Late Antiquity as a magic formula. Same bit with runes, all in the Alexandrian tradition of free cultural borrowing.

Does anyone here know the famous, if contrived, derivation of the phrase from Old British Celtic?

An affiliated phrase was "hocus pocus" supposedly from "Hoc est corpus meum" from the Mass, and meaning "This is my(Christ's) body." It comes from a famous stage magician's personal incantation, which does look alot like a (very) corrupt Latin phrase meaning "A little bit."
 

Vitrius

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#9


I went to the dictionary to see if it could lend any info. (Webster's New World College) It says it is probably of Balkan origin but assumed to be ( think Latin??- the symbol is < LGr) Abraxas cabalistic name of the Almighty.

I am thoroughly interested in this. Although my typing/delivery is not so hot sometimes, my passion for words and their origin is!

[edit] I looked back again because I wanted to be sure of the symbol "LGr" and it says it is "late Greek." not Latin as I thought.[/edit]


General dictionaries won't have a deep enough analysis of word histories. Example: Saggita is Latin for "arrow," but the word is much older and totally nonLatin, probably being a loan word from Etruscan, an older language of the Italian peninsula. The dictionary with just say Latin. If you look up abracadabra, most likely the dictionary will just give the first place or language in which the written form as an entity was noted, Greek in this case. The word is certainly of Semitic, probably Hebrew, origins. Ditto for Abraxis.

Just suddenly reminded of this, but the Greek demi-god Adonis derives his name directly from a Semitic word for "Lord." A cognate is famous from Jewish liturgy, "Adonai," meaning "My Lord." This is probably because his cult was an older Near Eastern practice(Thammuz obviously) which was imported into Greece. Those places are right there along trade routes.
 

inkedmagiclady

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#10
Vitrius said:
General dictionaries won't have a deep enough analysis of word histories. Example: Saggita is Latin for "arrow," but the word is much older and totally nonLatin, probably being a loan word from Etruscan, an older language of the Italian peninsula. The dictionary with just say Latin. If you look up abracadabra, most likely the dictionary will just give the first place or language in which the written form as an entity was noted, Greek in this case. The word is certainly of Semitic, probably Hebrew, origins. Ditto for Abraxis.

Just suddenly reminded of this, but the Greek demi-god Adonis derives his name directly from a Semitic word for "Lord." A cognate is famous from Jewish liturgy, "Adonai," meaning "My Lord." This is probably because his cult was an older Near Eastern practice(Thammuz obviously) which was imported into Greece. Those places are right there along trade routes.

This is all very cool Vitrius. :) I am glad you started this thread. I simply posted the part about the dictionary because it confirmed the cabalistic background for me. (Which is what the Zardoz thread is about.) The Cabala (many spellings for that also!) is very definitely Hebrew in origin.
 

stonedog3

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#11
I'd heard about hocus pocus, at the same time I think as I heard about willynilly :) Both jolly useful however they happened.

My family has an apotropaic mutter to avert disaster, especially when planning ahead: DV and WP... for Deus Vult and Weather Permitting!

"Y'all be sweet. There's probably Mormons on the board here, y'know, and even if there aren't, there's no need to be rude about sincerely held beliefs that seem baseless to you - certainly not here, of all places!"

I'm much more worried about the idea of censorship. Just about everything we discuss is a sincerely held belief of someone seeming baseless to someone else. And here, of all places, is where it happens - and many of us are sufficiently familar with eg Soren Kierkegaard's views on faith and reason and freedom and choice to be able to deal with it all.

As one of the theists on the board I am especially bothered by the idea that any sect should be discussed less and less critically than crop circles, dogs coming out of walls, camera orbs and That Rectory That Starts With B And I Can't Remember Its Name :D Thing - you know! Thing! argh!

Peni, if you've a particular object to anything actually said about LDS then argue your corner and if it's well out of order, as does sometimes happen, then find a mod - all shine like good deeds in a naughty world and also hand out bannanas. By the way, certainly in the UK they prefer the LDS tag rather than mormons in the same way I prefer episcopal to anglican.

Kath
 

Vitrius

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#12
inkedmagiclady said:
This is all very cool Vitrius. :) I am glad you started this thread. I simply posted the part about the dictionary because it confirmed the cabalistic background for me. (Which is what the Zardoz thread is about.) The Cabala (many spellings for that also!) is very definitely Hebrew in origin.
Not exactly Kabbalistic. Abraxas was from a widespread Gnostic cult, which probably bled into dabblers of the time. The Kabbalah, the invention of which actually IS somewhat debated, is typically seen a very formal Jewish system of conceptual work in that tradition(i.e. the Torah). Ideas overlap, and influences, well, influence, but the two are readily diferentiated.

I'll check into the other thread.
 

Yithian

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#13
stonedoggy said:
My family has an apotropaic mutter to avert disaster, especially when planning ahead: DV and WP... for Deus Vult and Weather Permitting!
I like that. They should print it on festival tickets. :D
 
A

Anonymous

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#16
Only Half Joking.

Peni said:
Y'all be sweet. There's probably Mormons on the board here, y'know, and even if there aren't, there's no need to be rude about sincerely held beliefs that seem baseless to you - certainly not here, of all places!
Strictly a question of etymology, Peni.

The resemblances to some very basic English words are there. Are they actual truth, coincidence, some strange joke, or a reflection of some original subconscious quirk? :confused:
 

stonedog3

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#18
Melf! have a hug dear..... I just couldn't get there... aphasia is a real pain. TRying to look up %%%% rectory really doesn't get you anywhere.

Andro - I was thinking of Fort's Universals Joker. It only works in english I think tho.....

Kath
 

Tezcatlipoca72

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#19
Vitrius, here's a question for you: "djinn" and "genius" come from a common origin, don't they? So did the Arabs get it from the Greeks, or did the Greeks get it from Semites (perhaps the Phoenicians)? Or what?

I wanted to be a linguist when I grew up, but somehow I ended up as a computer programmer.
 

Vitrius

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#20
Tezcatlipoca said:
Vitrius, here's a question for you: "djinn" and "genius" come from a common origin, don't they? So did the Arabs get it from the Greeks, or did the Greeks get it from Semites (perhaps the Phoenicians)? Or what?

I wanted to be a linguist when I grew up, but somehow I ended up as a computer programmer.
Oh, what a fun question!

Are genii and djinn/jinn related etymologically? Short answer: no. It's tempting to forge a folk etymology for these, but it doesn't hold up under analysis. Here's why:

The Arabic djinn derives from the root J-N-N, meaning to cover, as in "janna" he covered, or "anta tajnanu" you cover. It means "to hide" basically, the reasoning being that the Jinn are invisible(hidden) spirits, just like fairie folk. Same root occurs in Hebrew, with one predictable phonological change; G-N-N. The (Ma)ggin in Maggin David (Star of David) means "shield" and derives from the same root meaning "to cover or hide."

Now Greek and Latin. The root for Genius/genni is direct from Latin and goes all the way back to the original Indo-European, the postulated language from which nearly all European and some Indian/Asian languages derived, English included. The root is a variant of *gen-/*gne and means "procreate/birth/born from/etc" This clues you that the genius of the Roman was a fertility spirit and not exactly the fairy type demi-deity you mean in the other thread. Words with this root, both from Latin and direct through the Indo-Euro descent abound. Genre, genetic, generate, pregnant, ingenious(literally "born within"), generous(giving forth(birthing), and on and on. The Greek word for "child" is gonos, and of course, woman(oriGINally "mother") is gynos. All from the same European, qualifiably nonSemitic root.

I had a hell of a time doing that by the way. Thanks.

Comp sci is an analytical trade like traditional linguistics.

*Quasi-Fortean footnote. The J-N-N/G-N-N root means "hidden" and pertains to the demonic, or otherwise supernatural, entities in Arabic folklore. Not the word, but the concept comes up over and over again in European myth where a certain word stem meaning "hidden" denotes many mythic things. The root is something like *kel-/hel- and lends itself to words just as hell, niflhel, etc(and more mundane words like helmet and conceal), probably being used for the underworld because buried bodies were conCEaLed. Hades(Haides) meant "covered" as well.

edit: It suddenly occured to me that geniis, as those found in bottles, are probably direct from Arabic, Jinn, the word being so similar to the already-in-place genii that they were confused. But this is a direct, recent borrowing, and doesn't mean the words are related. Only that they were so similar in sound that the new word got spelled the same.
 

Vitrius

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#22
JerryB said:
Perhaps a little obvious, but what about the word 'abracadabra'...?
Already covered on the first page of the thread. Though I did find the interesting, if erroneous, attempt to wrangle abracadabra out of British Celtic. It was Abar cad Abar, meaning something like "God Holy God." I can't figure where Abar comes from though, since modern Gaelic words for "God" are from the root "Diu" just like Latin "Deus," Greek, "(d)Zeus," and the "Teus" in "Teusday." Maybe Abar was a local pagan deity.

Damnit, reset button.

Edit again: McBain's Celtic dictionary has Abar as "confluence" coming from a verb, Adbeir or Adbar" meaning "to flow out" or "to bring/carry out." Maybe this means "Creator" and thus God. Looks related to English "out" -a(d) and "bear" -beir/bar.
 

Breakfastologist

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#24
Isn't the significance of the Abracadabra more to do with it's geometrical shape and alphabetical structure rather than any meaning of the word?
 

Bosbaba

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#25
Re: Only Half Joking.

AndroMan said:
Strictly a question of etymology, Peni.

The resemblances to some very basic English words are there. Are they actual truth, coincidence, some strange joke, or a reflection of some original subconscious quirk? :confused:
As a Mormon, as we are commonly referred to, who frequents these boards, I do find it interesting that there are such widely held views as to the origins of our doctrines. Personal beliefs aside, if you want to learn more about the research into the history contained in the Book of the Mormon there are a few sites on the internet that deal with it. You can link in through http://www.lds.org or just type in a Google search.

There seems to be a strong occult link behind some of the doctrines and stories I have learnt over the years, but I have yet to find the time to explore them fully.
 
A

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#26
Breakfast said:
Isn't the significance of the Abracadabra more to do with it's geometrical shape and alphabetical structure rather than any meaning of the word?
Am I the lone voice in the wilderness in believing that the sole significance of "abracadabra" is that it sounds cool?

Nonny
 

Bosbaba

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#27
Nonny Mouse said:
Am I the lone voice in the wilderness in believing that the sole significance of "abracadabra" is that it sounds cool?

Nonny
I don't think so. There is a chain of restaurants here in Ireland called Abrakebabra. Something about the phonetics of this word really works...(I did not miss the double meaning by the way...) :D
 

Vitrius

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#28
Breakfast said:
Isn't the significance of the Abracadabra more to do with it's geometrical shape and alphabetical structure rather than any meaning of the word?
You mean the magical pyramid. It just works. Still probably a Semitic magic formula. That's a common thing in Western magic, like AGLA, and even the Ha-Shem in an oblique way.
 

Vitrius

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#29
Re: Re: Only Half Joking.

Bosbaba said:
There seems to be a strong occult link behind some of the doctrines and stories I have learnt over the years, but I have yet to find the time to explore them fully.
We should start a new thread on this. It's a fascinating piece of somewhat Fortean Americana. Have you seen the major article on the relation of LDS doctrine to Hermeticism and Kabbalah? I did a term thesis on the very subject, and it was very interesting.

And I'd suggest Hugh Nibley as a starting resource for interested nonMormons.
 

Vitrius

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#30
Re: Re: Djinn and Genius

Tezcatlipoca said:
Good answer, Vitrius. Thanks.

Now, how about fairy and peri?
As far as I can tell, they aren't related either, though some element of the root may go way back, since both are taken from Indo-Euro languages.

Fairy: from Old French faerie, from earlier fae, from Late Latin Fata, a goddess ruling fate, from Latin Fatae, The Fates. Same root, obviously, as English fate. I can't track down why an 'r' was inserted, but these things don't always make perfect sense.

Peri: From Farsi(Persian), peri, from Pahlva parik or parikh, from an old Avestan source, pairkha. In the Persian, a peri is alot like traditional European fairies, pretty nice, but the two older sources have it as a female demon which bears an uncanny resemblance to Lilith. Always female. Originally a Zoroasterian(and pre-Zoroaster Iranian) demoness.

Peris may be a borrowing from earlier Sumerian/Semitic sources, though not the word itself.
 
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