On the formation of
THE FORMATION OF ENGLISH WORDS
BY MEANS OF ABLAUT.
A GRAMMATICAL ESSAY
KARL WARNKE, PH.D.
MAX N I E M E Y E R.
THE FORMATION OF ENGLISH WOKDS
BY MEANS OF ABLAUT.
A GRAMMATICAL ESSAY
KARL WAENKE, PH.D.
In all Teutonic languages we are able to distinguish
two principles ruling over the whole of what English gram-
marians call Etymology. In the decjension as well as in
the formation of words two manners of proceeding are at
work: either new elements are added to the original and
simple form of the word, without that form itself undergoing
any material alteration, or the word is modified in one of
its essential parts, viz. in the vowel which combined with
consonants constitutes its stem. As to the former method,
the elements affixed to the root have often lost their original
form, and frequently they have even dwindled down to
only one letter; but the greater the progress is, made
by comparative philology, the more it appears that those
syllables and letters which, apparently without any meaning
themselves, have served to call into existence new words
and new forms, were once possessed of a distinct and clear
signification. The only difference existing between them
and those prefixes and suffixes whose 'forms have not been
curtailed, and whose meaning is still discernible, is that they
date from a period much more remote than the latter, and
that, like chemical compounds, they have been intimately
blended with a stem, whilst the others like mechanic com-
pounds, have preserved both their form and their meaning.
Thus to give only one instance, the consonant suffix k as we
have it in hawk, bullock &c., is of pronominal origin (AS. ic
*) See R. Morris, Historical Outlines of English Accidence, Lon-
don 1875, p. 213 (Note 2).
Quite as frequently, however, new words have been
formed by means of vowel-change. Two sorts of vowel-
change may be distinguished in English words: the one is
due to exterior influence; the other is based on a funda-
mental law valid in all Teutonic dialects.
It is well known that certain vowels whose pronunciation
did not differ much, very often took each other's place in
the early written language. When language got more fixed
and settled, when more ideas arose, and consequently more
words were needed, no better expedient offered than to
assign a particular domain to either of these forms. Thus
are to be considered: bathe beath, bless bliss, clam clem, desk
disk, meddle middle, neb nib, quid cud, rudder rother (in
rothernails), stud stot, than then, thrash thresh, truth troth.
The same is the case in a number of French words,
where the right vowel, not caught by the ear of the common
people, was introduced by writing: cafe coffee, chant chaunt,
cleff cliff, cull coil, molasses melasses , ostrich estrich , pair
peer, poult pullet, rosin resin, tamper temper. Very often the
vowel has lost its original sound by the influence of certain
subsequent consonants. Before the liquid consonants m and
n, the vowels a and o were indiscriminately used in AS.;
so we have in modern English the double forms: can
con, hale whole, ramp romp; similarly, deal dole, mean
moan, load lade. -- Especially easy is a change of vowel
before the guttural r, by which the clear sound of a prece-
ding vowel is invariably modified so that often it may quite
as well be represented by one vowel as by another. In
the written documents of English provincial dialects we in
fact sometimes meet with almost all vowels before r in the
same word: f. i. vargin, vergin, virgin, vorgin, vurgin. This
proceeding has enriched the vocabulary of the English tongue
with a number of words; f. i. birth berth barth, carl churl,
charm churm, churn quern, dear darling dilling , dark dirk,
farther further, girth garth, mirk murky, orchil archil, perilous
parlous, shark sherk shirk, whirl whorl.
No change of vowel properly speaking is to be stated
in a number of words in which the different vowel is caused
by the one word having been taken from a different language.
Due to French influence are: cave, cape, rank existing by
the side of cove, cope, ring. From a Northern source have
been derived: bark, frisk, rindle occurring by the side of
birch, fresh, run. Brisk is a Celtic word, brush is = Fr. brus-
que. Directly from the Latin as a mot savant has been
taken probe, the popular form of which is proof (prove).
In all these instances the vowel -change is accidental: the
second form is the same as the first , only with a slightly
It is different in a number of cases where we meet with
a regular transition from I to a and u. This regular transition/
is, also by English grammarians , called Ablaut. Its origin
dates from a prehistorical jjgriod, and the words formed by
it Bear a much more primitive character than those produced
by composition - - an opinion which seems to be illustrated
and corroborated by the fact that all Teutonic dialects in
course of time have been deprived of this faculty, whilst
on the other hand, every day new words may be called into
existence by means of composition. The primitive character
of the Ablaut -formations will still more distinctly be set off,
if we consider the origin and the character of the three
vowels which they exhibit, and if we examine those words
themselves in an historical point of view.
Vowels are produced by the tube which in form of a
cavity is adjoined to the head of the windpipe, being either
lengthened or shortened, and by the tongue and lips taking
different forms. The vocal tube is shortest when we utter
the sound i, the head of the windpipe having its highest
stand; it is longest when we bring forth the sound u, the
head of the windpipe having then gone as far down as
possible; it has a middle position with regard to a, in which
case the tube is longer than with i and shorter than with
u. On the other side, when pronouncing i, the tongue takes
a concave form, and the lips get rounded ; when uttering ,
the tongue has its natural position, and the lips are simply
opened. Thus the different shape of the vocal tube as well
as the different position of the tongue and lips, show that
i or u form the keynotes of the vocal gamut, the exact
middle of which is taken by a. Between either i and ,
or a and u, there is an infinite series of various vowels,
none of which, however, exceeds either i or u, and none of
which is produced with the whole vocal apparatus being- in
a more regular position than it is when bringing forth a.
The three vowels , , and ^, therefore, may justly be called
the fundamental pillars on which the whole system of vocali-
sation has been constructed. From the remarks just made
it also appears of what particular sound eacli of the three
vowels is possessed. The shorter the vocal tube is, and the
broader the opening made by the lips, the clearer and finer
is the sound produced ; and the more the tube is lengthened,
and the more the lips are rounded, the more the sound
becomes dull and hollow. Thus / represents a clear and
even a shrill sound, a is loud and strong, u is loud and
^ hollow. Compared with either a or u, i, being not possessed
of the same force as those two, sounds rather soft and low.
The category of words, therefore, in which, already a
priori, we may expect to meet with Ablaut, are those
expressive of sound, which, only from the occurrence of
Ablaut, may be supposed to belong to the oldest elements
of language. That, in fact, they are so, is proved by the
history of language.
According to the most generally adopted opinion, onoma-
topoeia was the principle which first led man to the use
of language, and it was only in process of time that this
principle was amplified and transferred from the imitation
of sound to the representation of all other things that struck
the senses. Max M tiller *), differing from this theory, thinks
that, as' bodies like glass and bells are possessed of a
particular sound, the faculty of thinking necessitated the
organs of speech to perform adequate vibrations in order
to produce sounds and words. But he, too, is under the
necessity of owning that a number of words in all languages
*) Lectures on the Science of Language. London 1864. p. 372 seqq.,
are formed in an onomatopoetic way. As men acquire a
great part of their ideas by the impression which the objects
surrounding them make on their senses, so it is in fact of
language. Nature, proving its very life by perpetual move-
ment and noise, presents a rich variety as to the eye so
to the ear of the contemplative looker-on. Thus the words,
generally called sounds, took their origin words which
compose a great part of the vocabulary of all nations, and
which for the English language have been carefully compiled
by Koch in an Essay, bearing the title Linguistische Allotria,
and published after the author's death by Dr. Wilhelm
(Eisenach 1875). The sounds once brought into existence,
it was not difficult to take another step in the formation of
new words. Soon the sharp ear of man perceived that very
often several sounds succeed each other, which either represent
a mere repetition, or give the same sound in different shades.
In the former case the simplest manner of proceeding would
have been twice to repeat the same word; and although
there are instances of that having been indeed the case, as
bee -bee, paw -paw, yet in general the English language,
avoiding such monotonous and poor -looking formations,
preferred to give them more variety by a change of the initial
consonant of the second word, f. i. borv-rvorv, boo-hoo,
fol-lol, hirdum dirdum, hubbub, rvhurlie-birlie &c. In all these
instances the radical vowel has been preserved (in rvhurlie-
birlie there is only an irregular and arbitrary spelling) for
the simple reason that the sound originally expressed by
these words has not undergone any alteration. In a number
of cases, however, the second sound was, although bearing
the same general character as the first, yet perceived to be
as distinct from it, as the echo is distinct from tHe sound
which effects it. In order to represent this difference, no
easier and more appropriate expedient offered itself, than
to repeat the stem not with any alterations affecting the
first consonant, but with a simple and regular change of the
vowel, i. e. with Ablaut.
As we have in German formations, exhibiting all three
vowels, f. i. piff paff puff, bim bam bum, so we meet also in
English with combinations, like cling clang clung, fee faw fum,
knick knack knock, rim ram ruff'. 1 am ' at a loss to discover
the meaning of the third form in such expressions, if it be
not that the ear felt better pleased with, or found greater
completeness in, three sounds. For beside expressions like
those just mentioned, we have instances where the English
language, although not choosing to affix a third modification
with u, yet for the sake of completeness added a third
word with a vowel different from the first two. Thus we
read in Shakespeare (Tempest I, i): ding dong bell. Other
examples are to be met with in Halliwell's interesting book:
The Nursery Rhymes of England (2 nd Ed. London, 1843} :
p. 16. See saw sack a day.
p. 82. Little John Jiggy Jag.
p. 94. John Cook had a little gray mare,
He haw hum,
Her back stood up, and her bones they were bare,
He haw hum.
p. 109. Ding dong darrow
The cat and the sparrow.
p. 125. Sing danty baby ditty.'
p. 141. Tick tack too.
Generally, however, two of these forms were thought
sufficient to express the same idea as is conveyed by three.
So we hear in German piff paff, piff puff, bim bam, bim bum
quite as often as the forms with the three vowels; and the
number of English words with only two vowels by far
surpasses the quantity of those exhibiting three. A number
of these double -formations are to be found in the scientific
grammars of the English tongue *) ; the completest list has
been given by Koch in the above-mentioned Essay. Koch
has, however, omitted to give the particular development of
*) Fiedler; Wissenschaftliche Grainmatik der Engl. Sprache I,
Zerbst, 1848, p. 200. E. Matzner, Grammatik der Engl. Sprache.
Berlin 1873, 2^1 Ed., I, p. 474.
each of these forms. When looking for the words, contained
in this list, in the dictionaries, we are struck by the absence
of a great number of them; and it is not difficult to find
the reason why the lexicographers did not admit them.
There is an unmistakable tendency inherent to the
English language to avoid and give up all cumbrous and
clumsy formations: the whole of English accidence, f. i.,
bears a character more symmetric and simple that that of
most other European languages. The same notable feature
may be discovered in the formation of words. Disdaining
the somewhat homely double -formations of which we are
treating, the language was soon contented to employ only
one part of them for the representation of an idea which
had at first, more exactly, though less elegantly, been rendered
by the two or three words put by the side of each other.
The places where we may be most sure still to meet with
such formations are those in which language has not deve-
loped itself with the game rapidity as in the centres of
intellectual activity; the people whose vocabulary is richest
in such formations are those in whom the influence of civili-
sation has not yet stifled primitive feelings and primitive
expressions. Such words, therefore, are most frequent in the
provinces, in the unlettered ranks of society, and in the
nurseries, where the child unconsciously performs the same
task as a nation in the earliest stages of its development.
These remarks, however, only bear upon the double-
forms; those imitative words, on the contrary, which," in
separate forms,, present the three or two vowels, are as
many fresh and healthy leaves on the fair, broad -branched *
tree of the English language.
Turning to those words themselves, we may divide
them into four categories according to the four different sorts
I. i a u 7
II. i a,
III. i u,
IV. a u.
Of these sounds u requires to be considered apart. .AS.
u has preserved its old German pronunciation only when //,
/-f-cons., or sh are following: f. i. full, bull; bulrush, pulpit;
bush, cushion; generally it has adopted the sound which
lies between u and o, and which Walker represents by u.
On the other side also o has taken a part of the functions
of u } as it was indeed for a long period to be found by its
side. Therefore we need not be surprised to see 6 as well
as U, the domains of which were daily extending, as substi-
tutes for u whose use was compassed within the most
narrow limits. Thus the three categories exhibiting w, have,
each of them, two subdivisions, the one with 0, the other
To the fourth class belong two words in which we
have u, written ew, and which are also displaying a
different pronunciation of a, viz. a, written aw. These words
are: terv-tarv, an archaistic expression, to break hemp, and
gerv-garv a showy trifle (influenced by Fr. joujou?)
Koch, whose arrangement differs from ours, sets up two
more categories, the types for which are e a, and i e.
But as e does not occur in the regular Ablaut i a u, the
words, given by Koch, cannot claim a place among our
words. Besides, none of them occurs in the written language;
see-saw, which is the last of the list, and which seems to be
connected with s#w> = serra, as the movement expressed by
see : saw is similar to that of a saw at work is to be com-
pared with tee-totum, tee-totaller, didapper, and on the other
,side with formations like fee- fa w. - - It is different in the
last of Koch's categories, which contains only one word:
stip step. This word is given by Wheatly in his Dictionary
of Reduplicated Words (London 1866); and in fact e and i
often taking each other's place (cp. p. 2) we have to con-
sider stip step as a reduplicated form rather than constitute
for it a new class of Ablaut.
Thus we see, in the imitative words there is hardly
any anomaly to be met with in the employment of what
is called Ablaut, i. e. the regular transition of i to a and u.
Only twice in the long list of words belonging to this cate-
gory (in tew -taw and gew-gaw) do we meet with a long
vowel, never do we find a diphthong, both of which, as is
well known, did not exist in the first period of language,
but were called into existence by composition of the short
vowels either with themselves or with one another. Nor
does the preceding or the following consonant bear a cha-
racter that might engage us to think the change of vowel in-
fluenced by it.
It is different in another class of Ablaut. For not only
in imitative words do we meet with a regular change of
vowel, but a similar change may also be noted in the verb.
Heyne 1 ) even defines the origin and character of Ablaut
in the following manner: ( Ablaut has its origin and its basis
in the verb. By regular vowel-change in the root - syllable
a difference is effected between the Present and the Past
tenses of the verb, and this regular vowel -change is called
Ablaut.' In this definition Heyne follows Grimm who on
different occasions states that the Ablaut in the Teutonic
dialects originated in the verb. A look into the origin of
these forms, such as it has been established by comparative
philology will, however, convince us that we have not to
consider the Past Tenses of strong verbs as genuine Ablaut-
iu -J/I<MJ . j;r:t /-iinov/ ':
In the Aryan languages all strong verbs -originally re-
duplicated their root in order to express the idea of the
Perfect Tense. Distinct traces of this proceeding are dis-
cernible in Latin as well as in the oldest German dialects.
As to Latin, it may be sufficient to call to mind forms like
cecldi, pependi, tutudi, dedi, di$ici. Reduplication has taken
a somewhat * modified shape in the oldest Teutonic dialect
extant; in Gothic only the first consonant of the word was
repeated not with the following vowel as in pependi, tutu-
di, but always with the same sound ai, f. i. faifalp from
falpa, baibland from blanda, faiflok from fleka. A few verbs,
') Laut- und Flexion slehre. Paderborn 1862, p. 18.
in AS., exhibit the same sort of reduplication, the vowel in
the first syllable being however e:
hcetan hehdt heht
Idcan leldc leolc
Icetan lelcet leort
ondrcedan * ondredrced ondreard
rcedan *rerod reord.
Although still in the first period of the English language
this last remnant of reduplication disappears, and forms
svith a simple prolonged vowel (het, lee, let, ondred, red)
are more in use, yet those few forms permit us to take
a look into a period ot the English language of which we
do not possess any documents, and in which we are entitled
to suppose all those verbs which in Gothic form the Perfect
Tense by reduplication, to have followed the same principle.
Only the five mentioned, however, out of 51, preserve the
double consonant: all the rest indicate the loss of the second
consonant by lengthening the vowel: f. i.
G. falpa faifalp; AS. fealde feold.
G. slepa saislep; AS. slcepe slep.
G. saia saisd; AS. stiwe sedrv.
These verbs compose, according to Koch (Grammatik p. 238
seqq.) the first division of strong verbs. In the second
division which in its six classes comprises a far greater
number of words than the first, none of the ancient
dialects has forms which distinctly bear the marks of
original reduplication. But also here do we meet with
reduplication in the parent-speech; and even if we did not,
the influence, exercised by the concluding consonant on the
preceding vowel, would bring us to conclude that the Ablaut
found in the verb is different from the Ablaut in imitative
words. Moreover, this opinion seems to be confirmed by the
fact that the verbs belonging to Cl. I, II and VI of the
second division of strong verbs, have the same vowel in
the P. P. as in the Present Tense, just like those of the
first division. But as in the other three classes we find in
the P. P. and sometimes also in the Plural of the Preterit
Tense the vowels u or 0, it seems to be probable that Ab-
laut such as it existed in onomatopoetic words was also
here of a certain influence.
After these remarks it will be evident that the above-
mentioned opinion of Heyne must be modified and that we
have to distinguish two different sorts of Ablaut. That
vowel-change which a certain number of verbs undergo,
and which generally and emphatically is called Ablaut, is
not the most simple and original one. On the contrary,
primary Ablaut is only to be found in onomatopoetic words,
and if, in the declension of the verb, we retain the denomi-
nation introduced by Grimm, and sanctioned by the use
which all grammarians since him have made of it, we cannot
but insist upon discriminating it from the primary one,
compared with which it can only lay claim to a secondary
part. Having thus tried to establish the different nature of
the two sorts of Ablaut existing in the English language,
we shall little hesitate as to the order in which we have
to consider the words formed by it. First we shall examine
the onomatopoetic formations, then we shall turn to those
words which have been derived from strong verbs.
It has already been exposed that according to their
origin a great part of the words belonging to the first
category, are expressive of sound, the pitch of which is
indicated by the very Ablaut. Seeing how convenient the
latter was to set forth the different shades of the same notion,
people soon transferred the use of it to another class ol
words which are in a manner related to those expressive
of sound. These are the words which convey to us the
idea of motion. A man, not able to restrain the violent*
emotions to which he is subject, shouts and jumps at the
same time whilst deriving a particular pleasure from some-
thing. On the other side, people not used to give vent to
all their feelings, often cannot help expressing the afflictions
under which they labour, by gesture as well as by lamentation.
Thus it is to be explained that the Latin verb plangere
originally signifying to beat or strike, has adopted the
meaning of lamenting (poetically even plangere alqm to
bewail a .person). Nor is the English language without
analogous instances; there exist not a small number of
expressions which may be used in reference both to sound
and to motion. The] word strain, derived from 0. Fr.
estreindre L. stringere, has beside its original meaning, taken
the sense of melody and song. March, in all European
languages, is first the act of moving by regular steps and
in a fixed order, then a piece of music often attending that
act. Several adjectives, originally applied to different kinds
of motion, are, when joined to the pertinent substantives,
generally understood as relating to sound; such are piercing,
splitting, rending. Another proof of the connection, existing
between sound and movement, is the phrase: to set one's
teeth on edge, by which the disagreeable movement is
expressed which thrills through one's body on hearing a
harsh and jarring sound. When speaking of a Stentorian
voice, few persons may remember that the first sense of Gr.
(jTSPco is to straiten. It is therefore not surprising that the
English language following a principle in -the formation of
words expressive of sound, has employed the same principle
in the formation of words expressive of motion. As in the
former class the two or three vowels express as many shades
in the sound, so in the latter they notify a change in the
movement : the movement not continuing in the same direction,
becomes irregular. If the words, showing the different
vowels, are not compounded, but exist independently by
the side of each other, the same rules apply as in the first
category, viz. the lighter the vowel the quicker the movement,
the broader the vowel the slower and heavier becomes the
movement. Another step taken in the development of
the meaning of these words deserves to be mentionedi
Motion and form have a similar relation to each other as
sound and motion. The shape of an object often is nothing
but the result of a preceding movement, as seems sufficiently
to bo proved by the substantives: a crease, a fold, a joint,
a plicature, a point, a bristle (derived by metathesis from to
burst). These - are A the three ^classes to which the words
exhibiting primitive Ablaut belong; it will be easy to place
each of them in one of these categories.
Remembering what has been stated about the origin of
our words, I think we shall not go far astray when supposing
that at first all imitative words were used as interjections.
An interjection is defined by English grammarians as an
articulate exclamation; and it matters not whether this
exclamation is a sudden outburst of subjective feeling or
the imitation of a sound. To the former of these classes
belong all those words and syllables by which people are
in the habit of expressing pain and joy, admiration and
contempt, surprise and disgust, doubt and protestation, to the
latter all those which are called sounds. And as well as
by the interjection baa is represented the bleating of a sheep,
or by the interjection bow-wow the barking of a dog, we
may also suppose that formations like ding-dong, by which
the ringing of bells is expressed, or chitchat which means
idle talk, have originally been interjections. But in no other
point, perhaps, the liberty which pervades the whole of the
English language, has been so much set forth as here. For
almost all these words have taken the function of verbs,
without losing their character as interjections, and in conse-
quence of a proceeding more common and less surprising,
they are also used as substantives. Thus slip slap slop
continue still to be interjections, but are at the same time
quite as frequently to be met with as verbs and substantives.
Those formations, however, in which twice the same stem,
only with the vowel changed, occurs, are generally not liked
as verbs, as indeed their form, not very elegant in itself,
would, if inflected, have become exceedingly clumsy; they
are employed as substantives, and in some few cases as
adjectives and adverbs.
As to the form of these words, the early date which
we assign to them, entitles us to anticipate that in most
cases we have mere roots, i. e. most of the words cannot
be reduced to a simpler or more original form. Sometimes,
however, the root is somewhat modified by the nasal conso-
nant n having intruded after the vowel which serves to
connect the consonant elements of the root. Matzner
(Grammatik, Berlin 1873, I, p. 188) says that n is to be
found before a guttural and dental g beginning the following
syllable, as in messenger 0. Fr. messagier , passenger 0. Fr.
passagier, popinjay, 0. Fr. popegal In the words, given by
Matzner, n is of an inorganic character, it has been added
merely to render the pronunciation more easy; besides it
does not occur in the root - syllable. It is different in a
certain number of imitative words. There, n occurs in the
root-syllable; it has its place not only before g, which is
generally indeed the last letter of the word, but also before
ch and #; it is moreover not of an inorganic character,
but produces a distinct change in the signification of the
word. For as the short vowel in the root- word is lengthened
by the added n, so the sound or movement represented by
the word, gets more protracted. The same remarks apply
to w, which, however, according to its nature, has not been
put before gutturals, but before the labials b and p.
Besides, to no small a number of words belonging to
this category, are added the suffixes le or er. Both / and r
being what is called trills, and no great difference existing
in the use made of them, they may conveniently be consi-
dered together. Firstly, both of them are possessed of the
faculty of imparting a frequentative meaning to the word
in question; and as things which often follow each other,
or are put together in a great number, are generally not
very extensive, it is easily to be conceived that the endings
le and er also have a diminutive power, with which idea that
of depreciation is narrowly connected. The same diminutive
and depreciative sense is inherent to the suffix ?/, which is
to be found in some of our words, f. i. in dilly-dally. As
for the use of either er or le, no distinct rules seem to have
been observed, both having the same force, they were in-
discriminately used, until time gave each of them its particular
domain. It may, however, be stated that the root containing
/ er was preferred, as in clitter clatter clutter, flitter flutter,
and on the other hand, when r already was in the root, le
was chosen for the suffix, f. i. crinkle crankle, rlmple rample,
trimple trample, prittle prattle &c.
In the following pages 1 shall give a list of the words
formed by primary Ablaut as far as they occur in tbe written
language of the day, and as completely as I have been
able to compile them. According to 'the four different sorts
of Ablaut, I shall divide them into four categories, in each
of which I shall first give the simple and nasalized roots,
and then the derivations with le y er, and y.
A. i a o (u).
I. i a o.
1. Pure Boots.
. MOW A
1. Chip, Chap. Chop. These words originally represent
the noise of an object breaking or cracking. A sharp sound
being produced by a small fragment being separated from
a hard body, to chip is to detach or cut off a small piece.
The vowel a representing a loud and clear sound, to
chap is to cleave or split. o expressing a hollow and
resounding noise, to chop is to sever by loud strokes which
more or less rapidly succeed one another, f.i. to chop meat,
to chop off trees.
2. Flip. Flap. Flop, to flip to give a blow with some-
thing thin and flexible. To this word belong flippant, an
isolated hybrid formation (cp. blatant), moving quick and
ightly, lively, forward, and fillip a rap on the nose. to
flap to strike with something broad and loose, or to move
such things, f. i. wings. to flop. The sound of the blow
is of a more hollow description.
3. Jig. Jag. Jog. The original signification of a particu-
lar kind of sound, which is still discernible in the deriva-
tives jiggle, giggle, gaggle, has been supplanted by that of
a broken jolting movement; and as the latter is produced
by a rugged surface, jig has also adopted the meaning of
irregular form or shape. to jog to move heavily and
slowly, to be tossed and shaken when moving thus. jig-
jog, or jick-a-jog, that sort of jerking movement which is
experienced by people driving on an uneven and rugged
road, --to jag to make notches in something.
4. Knick. Knack. Knock, to knick to cause a noise as
of something small breaking. - - to knack represents a louder
noise as is produced f. i. by a snap with the fingers: hence,
to have a knack at something, to be skilled and dextrous
in something that it may as easily be performed as a snap
with the fingers. *) to knock to strike or dash together ;
the word represents a loud and hollow sound, such as is
caused by the iron knocker at the doors of English houses.
knick-knack, generally used in PL, and also written nick-
nacks, things that are easily to be broken, and as such things
cannot be of much use, small articles for show.
5. Nip, Knap. Knop (b). to nip (the inital &, preserved
in G. kneifen, has dropped) to pinch; originally perhaps
the noise caused by a thing being tightly compressed be-
tween two surfaces. to knap to crack, to open with a
cracking noise; hence the substantive knap summit of a
mountain; as to the transition in the meaning from loud
noise to elevation, cp. to knoll and a knoll. Similarly
knop bud (cp. G. Knospe)] only another form for knop is
knob any kind of protuberance.
6. Slip. Slap. Slop, to slip represents a soft, hardly
perceptible sound as of something moving down a slippery
surface; to move along the surface of something. to slap
to cause a flat noise, as of a blow with the flat hand.
to slop, according to Wedgwood, an imitation of the sound
of dashing water, to produce such a sound by pouring some
liquid in or out ; also to drink hastily. - - Related with the
latter signification is that of slip-slop bad drink, small beer.
A similar transition in the meaning is to be stated in wish-
wash, snipes, switchel; slip-slop is also used when speaking
of a lax and washy style of composition.
*) See Wedgwood, A Dictionary of English Etymology.
7. Tip. Tap. Top. tip, originally the light sound pro-
duced by one small thing touching another, hence, the end or
point of a small article, to tap to strike gently, the instru-
ment with which the blow is performed, being, however,
flatter than in the case of tip. top. The original sense
of causing a loud noise by knocking, having been lost, it
is, like tip, applied to the end of a thing with which a blow
may be given, and the latter limitation having also dropped,
to the highest part of anything in general. Used as a verb,
it signifies any action the object of which is the top of a
thing, particularly, to add or take away the top of a thing.
tip-top, used as a substantive or as an adjective, is, in
its meaning, a sort of superlative either of tip or of top.
8. Ding. Dang. Dong. The fundamental idea is to pro-
duce a loud, resounding noise, to ding to throw down with
a loud noise. to dang to strike, to give a heavy blow.
Both these words are but little used. Very frequently,
however, occurs a composite form in which, besides, the
original meaning" of sound is more distinctly set off: ding-
dong, an imitation of the ringing of bells.
2. Words with the Suffixes le and er.
9. Diddle. Daddle. Doddle express the different degrees
of a staggering, reeling movement. The original significa-
tion of sound is still to be discovered in Sc. dad = slam
(Wedgwood). These words also present an instance of what
has been said about the intimate relation existing between
the suffixes le and er; by the side of diddle, daddle occur
didder to tremble, dadder to render confuse, as a trembling
hand f. i. does.
The same remark applies to the following two groups
10. Gibber. Gabble. Gobber. Both to gibber and to gabble
signify to talk idly, and it is only according to the intensity
of the noise which is to be represented that either the one
or the other is preferred. gibble-gabble idle, nonsensical
talk. to gobble to cry like a turkey-cock.
11. Titter. Tatter (le}. Tottle. to titter to produce a
succession of sharp thin sounds; hence to laugh in a
suppressed manner, expressing inward joy, cp. G. kichern,
Gr. xixli&iv. - - to tattle expresses a succession of open
sounds, to prate. The suffix er , occurring in other Low
German dialects, PI. D. tatern, was not employed in English,
because the word formed by it might have been easily
confounded with to tatter to tear, derived as it seems from
a Scandinavian source, --to totter to tremble, to shake. -
titter-totter swing. -- tittle-tattle nonsensical talk.
II. i a u.
1. Pure Roots.
12. Crimp. Cramp. Crump, to crimp to lay in light waves
or plaits. -- to cramp, the contraction is more constrained
than in crimp; hence a cramp a brace which holds together
pieces of timber. Crump occurs only as an adjective, and
signifies crooked, bent. The corresponding verb is to crumple
cp. No. 80.
13. Dig. Dag. Dug. to dig to drive a pointed instrument
into something, then to throw up earth, dag, originally like
diffy the thrust with a sharp instrument, then the instrument
itself with which the blow is given, dagger. It seems,
however, impossible to reduce, as Wedgwood does, all the
significations which dag has taken, only to this origin; cp.
Miiller Et. Worterbuch p. 272. - - to dug to stoop to, to
14. Dip. Dap. Dab. Dub. All of them originally express
the more or less loud noise of water agitated, to dip to
immerse the end of an object in a liquid. to dap has the
same meaning, only the movement is slower. - - to dab,
like dap, to give a blow with the flat hand; hence 'a sepa-
rate portion of a substance, so much as is thrown down at
once.' Wedgwood. to dub a) to make a loud noise; b) to
strike, particularly to make one a knight. - Used as a
substantive, it is more narrowly connected with to dip,
meaning a small pool of water.
2. Mixed Forms (partly Pure Hoots, partly Derivatives).
15. Hack. Haggle. Higgle. Huck. Huckster, to hack to give
a stroke with a sharp instrument, hence to cut in small
pieces. to haggle, a diminutive form of hack, to cut in
small pieces; as a person trying to buy at a cheaper price
than is proposed by the tradesman, is, as it were, cutting
or hacking off a part of the fixed sum, to haggle also
signifies to chaffer, to stickle for the price of something.
to higgle. Beside the latter signification, with which may be
compared G. knickern from knack, and Knicker a stingy
fellow, it means to expose small things for sale a signi-
fication which naturally devolves from such articles being
often cut in pieces before being sold. to huck, a word
not much in use, with the same signification as haggle and
higgle. Directly derived from it is the substantive huckster
a person who exposes small articles, particularly eatables,
16. Himp. Hump. Hamper. The skipping movement
expressed by hip (cp. Nr. 72) has lost its vivacity in himp.
- hump, the original meaning of tardy, irregular motion
having been lost, hump, transferred to shape, means a protu-
berance on the back. hamper the instrument by which a
person is prevented from moving freely, [hamper basket
has been derived from M. L. hanaperium, 0. Fr. hanap.]
17. Scrip. Scrap. Scrub. Scribble. Scrabble. The funda-
mental idea is the crack made by a hard body in breaking ;
hence scrap a small fragment, particularly of paper, scrip
a bit of paper, already filled with writing. The signification
of wallet, satchel is explained by Wedgwood as 'a receptacle
for scraps, a scrap-sack' cp., however, Muller, Etym, Wb. II,
p. 303, s. scribe. to scrub, implying a loud and harsh sound,
is to rub or scrape with something rough. The diminutive
ending le added, scribble and scrabble are used of writing
quickly and without care. Scribble-scrabble what is scribbled
18. Sniff. Snuff. Sniffle. Snaffle. Snuffle. All these words
represent the sound made by drawing breath through the
nose, to sniff or snuff at something, to smell at something-
as certain animals are in the habit of doing, to snuff to
blow one's nose, is also transferred to the cleansing of other
things: to snuff a candle &c. In the signification of anger,
indignation, snuff may be compared with G. anschnauben
and Fr. ronfler. The vowel a is to be found in the derivative
snaffle which, like its parallel forms snuffle and sniffle, means
to speak through the nose.
3. Words with the Suffixes le and er.
19. Bibble. Babble. Bubble, to babble to make a mur-
muring noise as a brook dabbling along over stones ; to prate
like a babe, to utter words imperfectly or unintelligibly. to
bubble, from the sound of a boiling liquid, which is not so
clear as that of water quietly flowing along. The vowel i
is in bibble -babble, a colloquial expression for idle talking.
Shakespeare T. N. IV, 2.
20. Glitter. Clatter. Clutter, to clatter to make a rattling
noise, the syllable clat being, according to Wedgwood,
equivalent to clack or slap. to clutter represents the hollow
noise made by a multitude of persons stirring quickly and
actively, to bustle. As in Nr. 19, i is found in cutter-clatter^
signifying din, confuse talking, as in some provinces also
does clatter- clutter.
21. Fiddle. Faddle. Fuddle, to fiddle, like to faddle,
signifies to move up and down in an uneasy manner, then,
to toy, to trifle with something. It may be that the formation
of fiddle violin has been influenced by the verb, although
Wedgwood ought to have made mention of Diez' derivation
of the word from vitulari to caper about and be wanton
like a calf. To which of these etymologies we may incline,
the transition of the meaning is the same, viz. from movement
to sound. to fuddle; Wedgwood thinks it to be a by -form
of fuzzle with which it shares the meaning to get drunk.
But this meaning may quite as well have been taken from
the heavy, irregular manner of walking of a drunken person,
whereas in fuzz, fuzzle the idea of mixture and confusion
has led to the v same signification. fiddle-faddle trifling,
22. Fimble. Famble. Fumble, to famble to talk imperfectly
like a child; then, the sense of talking lost ; it is applied to
other kinds of imperfect and awkward acting, --to fimble,
in conformity with the light vowel 2, is to touch lightly
and frequently (le) with the end of one's fingers. to fumble
to grope about in a clumsy manner. The original sense
of talking imperfectly, of having an impediment in one's
speech, is again discovered in fimble-famble feigned pretences,
lame excuses, called so, because apologies of that description
are generally not brought forth in fluent words.
23. Piddle. Paddle. Puddle, to piddle. That the sounds
of liquids being slowly poured out was originally expressed
by this word, is evident from the fact that both in England
and Germany, children employ it in the sense of making
water. Then it is used of other childish actions, to do light
and trifling work. In the signification to eat a bit here and
there, there seems to have taken place a confusion with bit. '
The signification of splashing in the wet has been more
distinctly preserved in paddle than in piddle. It does not
only mean to move the water with the hand, but it is used
of a certain kind of rowing, as a paddle is a sort of short
oar. In the sense of moving water with the hand, Fr. patte
seems to have been of a certain influence on paddle. Water,
being moved, becomes troubled, and if it is shallow, even
dirty and muddy ; hence to puddle to trouble, to make dirty ;
a puddle a small quantity of muddy water.
24. Ramble. Rumble. Rimple. Rumple, to rumble, G.
rummeln to make a hoarse protracted sound; as such noise
is often accompanied by a protracted inegular movement,
to ramble is to rove about. The words showing the sharp
consonant p are used in a transitive sense, and transferred
to form, signify to wrinkle, to crease; particularly to knit
III. i a u o.
25. Click. Clack. Cluck. Clock. Click a distinct thin
sound, a click of the door-latch, of the pendulum, of the mill,
with the tongue. -- clack represents a louder sound than
click, the clack of a whip, the clack of a horse -hoof. -
click -clack represents the noise made by a pair of wooden
shoes, &c. - - to cluck (G. glucken) to call as a hen does her
chickens. clock, called so from the striking.
26. Slibber. Slabber. Slubber. Slobber. All of them
originally express the sound of trickling water, to slabber
to spill water. to slobber to let the saliva fall from the
mouth as little children do. to slubber to soil as with
dirt, slibber- slabber negligent, careless.
B. i a.
1. Pure Boots.
27. Chit. Chat, to chat or chatter (cp. Fr. caqueter,
G. klatschen) to talk on indifferent subjects in a familiar
manner. chit-chat idle talk.
28. Clink. Clank. The nasal consonant n serves to
make the sharp sound expressed by click, clack tinnient and
ringing, to clink is chosen if that sound is produced by
small objects, to clank is used of large and hard bodies.
clink-clank an imitation of the ringing of bells &c. By
the change of the hard guttural k into the flat one g, the
sound is softened.
29. Clip. Clap. Clip, an imitation of the sound of
scissors, hence to cut off a small piece as with a single stroke
of scissors. to clap to strike together two flat objects, as
30. Clish. Clash, to clash to produce a loud rattling
sound, as weapons striking together. Clish-clash or clish-ma-
clash a substantive form with the same meaning.
31. Crick. Crack, to crick represents a sharp sound
like that of a creaking door or of cloth being rent asunder.
- to crack to sound like a hard object breaking or splitting.
- Crick-crack, a substantive form like clish- clash.
32. Film. Flam. The original notion of rapid move-
ment has been transferred to transitory actions and to things
not possessed of any substantiality; thus to flam to tell lies.
flim-flam, like fiddle-faddle, trifle, nonsense.
33. Griff -graft by hook and by crook, somehow or
34. Kim-kam against the grain, in a wrong way.
35. Mish. Mash. 'Connected with to mix, mish-mash
signifies things that are mixed up and mingled. to mash
to crush into a soft mass.
36. miz-maze, an isolated form by the side of maze a
labyrinth, a place with many winding passages; also used
as a verb, to render confuse.
37. Pick-a-back on one's back. Wedgwood thinks
pick -a -hack to have been put for pick -pack which occurs
with the same signification; the substantive back, however,
seems to have been of a certain influence on the formation
of the word.
38. Pit. Pat. Pit originally represents a soft sound
like that of the throbbing heart; then it expresses the
tramping of feet, and hence has been derived the meaning
to make holes in the ground like those of footsteps; in a
more amplified signification it simply means to make holes.
- to pat to give a light blow or tap with the palm of the
hand, cp. the colloquial expression in G. Patsche hand.
Pit-a-pat, pitty-pat, an imitation of the beating of the heart.
The interposed a or y seems to indicate the pause existing
between the two sounds or movements expressed.
39. Prink. Prank. The radical image seems to be
that of a show which strikes the eye; cp. the same Ablaut
in G. blink und blank with a similar meaning. Both to prink
and to prank signify to set something out for show, to dress
or adjust ostentatiously &c. The third vowel u is to be
found in G. prunken.
40. Riff-raff. The original idea seems to have been
that of a clattering, confused noise. Like miz-maze, riff-raff
intensifies the simple raff, signifying refuse, dregs, scum of
anything ; more particularly a crowd of vulgar, noisy people,
41. Rip. Rap. Ultimately, according to Wedgwood,
derived from the sound of scratching or tearing, to rip is to
separate the parts of a thing by producing that peculiar
thin sound, i. e. by cutting or tearing, --to rap to strike
with a quick sharp blow, to rap at a door. -- rip -rap the
noise produced by several loud knocks.
42. Smick. Smack. An imitation of the sound heard
in kissing or tasting, also a smack with a whip, a smack
at the head. -- smick-smack, used colloquially and deprecia-
tively, continual kissing.
43. Snip. Snap, to snip to cut off with a sharp click,
such as is caused by a pair of scissors. The vowel i, im-
plying a diminutive notion, is particularly used when small
portions are separated from something ; in G. the same idea
is expressed by the suffix el in schnippeln. - - to snap. The
original sense of a sharp sudden sound is still discernible
in the signification to break asunder ; then it is to bite and
swallow, from the sound produced by the jaws being opened
and shut on a sudden. - - snip-snap a clapping noise, a
lively dispute or altercation. See Merry Wives IV, 5.
44. Thtvick. Thwack, to thwack to strike with something
flat and heavy. Thwick- thwack like many other words,
formed in the same way, expresses the sound of blows.
45. Tick. Tack, to tick to make a clear distinct sound
as a watch or clock. Applied to a slight touch, it means
to dot. to tack. "The original meaning of a sharp sound having
been quite lost, it signifies, as is still discernible in several
terms of marine, a sharp movement abruptly checked. Then,
as words expressive of movement are often applied to shape
and form, tack takes the meaning of thrust, projection, point.
tick-tack the sound of a watch or clock.
46. Tig. Tag. Byforms of tick, tack; tig an expression
used in the games of children ; tag an especial sort of tack,
viz. the metallic point put at the end of a lace.
47. Ting(k). Tang. Theee nasalized forms of tig(ck),
tag are imitations of a more or less ringing sound, as is pro-
duced f. i. by a bell. The same applies to the forms tingle,
tangle, tankle, in which the suffix le indicates the continua-
tion of the act of ringiug. tang, tangle originally express
the dissonant sound, which is caused by an instrument being-
put in tune. Thence the idea of irregularity and confused-
ness is transferred to intricate or involved textures. Thus
it comes that to tangle takes the signification to unite con-
fusedly, and that tang, in several technical terms, signifies
the instrument which serves to unite two parts of the same
object (the tang of a file or blade unites the file or blade
with the handle or hilt). In the same way, tang , tangle
seaweed are to be explained as something confuse and in-
48. Trick. Track, trick artifice, originally perhaps a
stroke; cp. the same development of meaning in G. Stretch.
- track step, print of the foot, then a beaten way or path.
- tric-trac. Directly taken from the French; cp. Scheler,
Dictionnaire Etymologique (Bruxelles 1872): 'mot de fan-
t aisle, anc. tic-tac, onomatopee tiree du bruit que ^font les des
lances sur le damier .
14. Trip. Trap, to trip to move with light quick steps.
- trap. The original sense of a flat sound may be illustra-
ted by a comparison between E. trap -door and G. Klappe.
In the same manner trap a spring for taking game, is to
be explained, whilst the same word has been applied to
bodily shape in the meaning of a heavy igneous rock, rocks
of that description generally occurring in a tabular form.
50. Zig-zag. The change of the vowel is corresponding
with the change in the movement or in the shape of an
object. From zig-zag have, by a proceeding not very fre-
quent in such words, been derived zigzaggery, zigzaggy.
2. Words with the Suffixes le and er.
51. Crinkle. Crankle. Nasalized forms of crick, crack.
With the common transition from sound to movement, to
crinkle is to run in flexures as lightning does, to crank, to
crankle to wind, to meander; the latter, besides, is used as
a transitive verb, to break into angles.
52. Dibble. Dabble, to dabble, in a neuter sense, is to
splash; used as an active verb, it means to dip something
into water. to dibble generally used of an angle -line
thrown into the water. dibble-dabble rubbish.
53. Dingle. Dangle (Cp. No. 8). to dangle to swing, as
a pendulum. - - dingle a narrow rocky vale is taken by
Miiller to be a byform of dimple. But as swinging objects
generally are of a certain length, but not very thick and
broad, it rather belongs to dangle, and is to be compared
with words as pit and swang. dingle-dangle swinging,
pendent, also the object which is swinging.
54. Fingle. Fangle. According to Wedgwood nasalized
forms of G. ftck-facken, to fidget, move to and fro without
apparent purpose. An antiquated form is to fang to catch,
take hold of, which seems to have influenced the meaning
of fangle (cp. the subst. fang the tusk of a boar by which
the prey is seized and held). -- fangle whimsies, a sudden
odd idea. - - fang led, in new-fangled ideas &c, is con-
trived, devised, ftngle-fangle a worthless thing, an insigni-
ficant trifle. .
55. Giggle. Gaggle, to giggle to laugh in a suppressed
manner, --to gaggle to quackle as ducks do.
56. Jingle. Jangle, to jingle to produce a sharp rattling
sound. to jangle, the sound produced is louder and more
57. Mingle. Mangle, to mingle to blend, to mix. mingle-
mangle expresses the same idea as mish-mash (No. 35).
58. Niggle. Naggle. to niggle 'to eat mincingly', and as
people often do so with an affected air, to naggle, beside
the signification just given, is also to give one's self airs.
59. Pitter. Patter (cp. No. 58). Both of them represent
the more or less loud sound of falling rain or hail &c.
60. Prittle. Prattle, to prattle, a diminutive form of to
prate. to prittle has the same signification, the sound being,
however, somewhat lighter than in prattle. -- prittle-prattle,
like bibble-babble , gibble-gabble &c. idle, nonsensical talk.
61. Quiver. Quaver, to quiver to shake slightly. to quaver
to tremble, to vibrate.
62. Ribble- Rabble, the same signification as riff-raff
63. Shilly-shally, foolery, irresolution.
64. Skimble-skamble, confusedly. 1 King Henry IV, 2, 1.
65. Dilly. Dally, to dally to waste one's time in trifles,
then, the act of caressing and fondling a person being
considered as a mere loss of time, it also means to inter-
change caresses. - - dilly-dally v. n. to pass one's time in
trifling, i. e. to delay business of a serious character. In
some dialects it also is lazy, lazy girl.
In a number of words, belonging to this category, a,
after tv, takes the sound of o (see Matzner, Gramm. I, p. 30) :
66. Swing. Swang. to swing to move from side to side,
to vibrate. swang, soft wet ground, shaking and yielding
under one's feet, i. e. a bog, a moor, cp. quagmire, connected
with quake = to quiver, shake. swing -swang a movement
like that of a pendulum, which in some parts of England,
is, according to Wedgwood, called swing -swang.
67. Swish. Swash. Both these words represent the
sound of rushing waves or of the roaring sea ; hence swash,
used as a substantive, a violent stream, a torrent. swish-
swash = slip -slop No. 6.
68. Widdle. Waddle, to waddle to throw, when walking,
the body from one side to the other. Widdle- waddle, to walk
widdle- waddle = to walk as ducks do.
69. Whip. Whap. to whip represents the swinging
sound of a lash; to strike with a lash. -- to whap , collo-
quially used for to flog, expresses the same swinging sound,
produced, however, not by a swinging, but by an unbending-
70. Twiddle. Twaddle, to twiddle to act with levity,
to trifle; to twiddle about one's mustachios; a by -form of
twiddle is tweedle, in which the long vowel expresses a
somewhat slower movement. to twaddle, twiddle -twaddle
express, like many other words of the same description,
idle, nonsensical talk.
C. i o (li).
I. i o.
1. Pure Roots.
71. Fib. Fob. to fib seems originally to be the imitation
of a smart, rapid movement, and as things rapidly moving
before our eyes, do not only fail to give us a clear idea
of their nature, but often even make a wrong impression
on us, it is easily to be conceived how to fib has taken
the sense of practising upon a person, and of telling lies.
The same development has been taken by to fob to which,
however, the altered vowel has imparted an intensive
meaning, to defraud, to cheat. G Kniff by which in some
cases E. fob may be rendered represents a similar development
of meaning. As to fob = pocket, Mtiller (Etymologisches
Worterbuch I, p. 395) is inclined to suppose that the idea
of shutting rapidly led people to call, by distinction, that
object which is very often shut and opened, a fob.
72. Hip. Hop. to hip to skip as birds do. - - to hop
implies a more energetic muscular movement, to leap or
jump either on both legs or on one. The haunch is called
hip from its being the agent of such movement. - - hip-hop
73. Sing-song does not belong to the imitative words
in the strict sense of the term, for the simple reason that
similar compositions generally consist of two verbs. Sing-
song has been formed in analogy to many other words,
representing the sound of the human voice, generally with
a depreciative meaning; the vowel o seems to have been
chosen on account of the substantive song already existing;
cp. G-. Sing sang.
2. Words with Suffixes.
74. Hiccius - doctius = hie est doctus, a juggler; the
accidental Ablaut seems to have contributed to the formation
of this curious word.
75. Kibble- cobble. The radical image is an irregular
noise as is caused by stones being cut. to kibble to cut or
grind in a rough way; cobble, cobble-stones large, rough
stones; used as a verb, to cut stones, transferred to other
kinds of action, it is to work unskilfully.
76. Ninny -nanny irresolute, wavering like a child. It.
ninna ninna is used in the signification to still children.
II. i u.
77. Din. Dun. to din to cause a loud continued sound
(L. tinnire). --to dun to make a hollow noise, to clamour,
then to claim a debt with importunity, to bother.
78. Fizz. Fuzz, to fizz represents a hissing sound as
is caused by boiling water or by fire being extinguished.
As things which fizz, generally form a loose and frothy
mass which it is easy to separate, to fuzz is to rip up, to
pull in pieces, and the substantive fuzz is applied to any
kind of particles which are apt to evaporate. On the other
hand, things which evaporate composing a confuse mass,
to fuzz and fuzzle, in a tropical sense mean to confuse the
head with drink (cp. fuddle, No. 21).
79. Hiss. Huzz. to hiss to make a prolonged sound
like that of the letter s. -- to huzz, like to buzz, to make
a dull sound, like that of a bee in flight, to murmur.
80. Crimple. Crumple. Compare crimp, crump No. 12.
to crumple is the verb corresponding to the adjective crump,
to ruffle, to crease; to crimple has the same signification,
the creases produced being only finer and more frequent.
III. i o u 2 .
81. Lill. Loll. Lull. The letter / being easily produced
by the tongue, and being often employed by little children
instead of other letters, it is not surprising that in many
languages it serves to express the imperfect speech of
children. In English, / has riot been combined with the
vowel a, as in L. lallare, Gr. Aatelv, G. lallen, but, as a
sort of compensation, the vowel u occurs in two shapes,
viz. o and u. to lill, an antiquated word, to gasp as a
dog out of breath; very rarely it is used like to loll to
put out one's tongue. Spenser F. Q. I, 34:
'Curled with thousand adders venomous
And tilled forth his bloody, flaming tong!
to lull to produce those protracted and monotonous sounds
by which a child is put to sleep; cp. lullaby song used to
lull children asleep; then, to cause to rest by soothing
influences, to quiet, to assuage. - - A child lulled in is or
becomes sleepy. Thus to loll signifies to be lazy and sleepy,
to act indolently, to lie at ease as a baby going to sleep;
and as the tongue of . an old jade or an exhausted dog
hangs dangling from his mouth, it also is to put out one's
tongue, cp. to lill.
D. a u (rarely o)
1. Pure Roots.
82. Bang. Bung, to bang to beat with something large
and rough. - - to bung has a similar signification, f. i. to bung
up a 'person's eye. bung. s. the stopper of a cask, from the
hollow sound caused by driving it in.
83. Crash. Crush. Crush-crash. All of them are expressive
of a clattering, boisterous noise, to crush represents the
sound produced by two hard bodies being ground, hence to
press between two hard bodies.
84. Cranch. Crunch. They are nasalized forms of crash, crush
(Nr. 83), sh having been changed into ch on account of the
nasal n. Cranch or craunch represents the prolonged sound
of crash, which is produced by one object slowly bruising
and pounding another object. It is also used, as is always
to crunch^ in the sense of gnashing one's teeth.
85. Flash. Flush. Flash, originally the sound of a rush
of water or sudden burst of flame, a quick transitory move-
ment like that of lightning; then a sudden burst of light, a
momentary brightness. - - to flush to flow suddenly, as the
blood of a person blushing.
86. Gash. Gush. The original signification is a loud noise
like that of splashing water, to gash to make a long and
deep incision in something, particularly in flesh. to gush to
rush forth in a copious stream.
87. Grab. Grub, to grab to lay hold of, to seize; cp.
the same vowel and the same signification in Prov. G. grapsen.
to grub originally to clear a piece of ground of weeds, then
to dig. Connected with, though not derived from, AS. graban.
88. Rash. Rush. They express 'the sound accompanying any
violent action'. Wedgwood, to rash to throw violently down
as a boar does with his tusks; rash, adj., hasty and hurrying
without consideration and thought. to rush to move with
violence, as the wind or a river.
2. Words with the Suffixes le, er.
89. Gargle. Gurgle. They represent the sound of bubbling
water, to gargle to rinse one's throat -- to gurgle to rush
forth in an irregular noisy current.
90. Maffle. Muffle, to maffle represents a sound such
as is produced by toothless jaws clapping together; hence
to stammer, to speak in a broken and faltering voice, in
the signification to wrap up. it is, however, derived from
muff, see Miiller, Etym. Worterb. II. p. 111. Both these
meanings have been joined in expressions like a muffled
oar, a muffled drum, i. e. an oar or a drum at which a
twisted piece of cloth has been fastened in order to deaden
91. Straggle. Struggle. The signification of broken
sound, which Wedgwood supposes these words to have had
at first, having been lost, they only refer to broken movement.
to straggle to wander carelessly about; and as a person
leaving the direct road and following his own way, must
be prepared to find many obstacles, to struggle is to strive
or make efforts, to exert one's energies.
3. Mixed Forms.
92. Blab. Blabber. Blubber. Blob. All of them are
originally, according to Wedgwood, an imitation of the sound
of dashing water, to blab or blabber to talk loosely and
foolishly, to blubber to weep noisily ; the vowel u is in its
place, because the noise produced by crying and sobbing is
much hollower than that effected by mere talking. As crying
is necessarily accompanied by swollen lips and cheeks, blub,
used as a verb an<J as an adjective, signifies to swell, swollen.
A parallel form with blub is blob', a) the mouth distorted
by crying b) anything swollen, f. i. blob-cheeked, blob-lipped.
- A byform of blab is bleb which has taken the particular
sense of a watery pustule.
93. Slatter. Slottery. Slut. Originally an imitation of
the sound of dashing water Or splashing dirt. Hence to
slatter to walk slovenly, as a person walking through dirt.
Slottery r , sluttish dirty, slut a dirty woman.
Having thus enumerated the words and groups of words
in which primary Ablaut has been preserved, I shall now
turn my attention to the so called strong verbs, i. e. to those
which form their Past Tense by change of vowel 1 ). This
change of vowel does not only serve to distinguish the
Perfect Tense and the Past Participle both from each other and
from the Present Tense, but as many verbs, substantives
and adjectives have been derived from strong verbs, it is
also of great importance for the formation of words. Grimm,
*) The works made use of for the following disquisition are:
J. Grimm, Deutsche Grammatik II, GOttingen 1826. Fr. Koch, Histo-
rische Grammatik der Engl. Sprache 18631869. R. Morris, Histo-
rical Outlines of English Accidence, London 1875. Wedgwood,
Dictionary of English EtymolQgy, London 1872. -- Muller, Etymo-
logisches Worterbuch der Englischen Sprache, Coethen1865. Grein,
Sprachschatz der angelsachsichen Dichter, Cassel und Gottingen 1861.
- I have adopted the classification and arrangement of verbs given
in the second part of his grammar, has given a list of such
words, as far as they occur in the oldest German dialects; '
I shall try in the following pages to fix what words in
Modern English are still to be considered as formed by
means of Ablaut. As the same AS. sound represents
several sounds in Modern English, and as, on the other side,
the same English vowel is based on several sounds in the
parent speech, the words derived from strong verbs cannot
have taken so regular a development as the onomatopoetic
words, and in each case , therefore , it will be necessary to
set out from the original AS. form.
The strong verbs are divided into two groups: those
in which the original method of reduplication may still be
discovered in Gothic and partly also in AS., and those in
which the traces of this method have been totally effaced
in all Teutonic dialects. Examining the words belonging to
the first of these categories, we are struck by the complete
absence of all derivative formations. The reasons of this
grammatical phenomenon lie in the very character and
nature of these verbs. The root -vowel in them was for a
much longer time kept up than in those of the second
category, and it was only at a comparatively recent period
that in the Perfect Tense the combination eo rose into
existence. When at last this moment arrived, the time in
which new words were created by means of Ablaut, had
already past, and it was impossible to employ the newly-
contracted forms for that purpose.
All the words, therefore, of which I have to treat in
the following pages, have been derived from the second
category of strong verbs; and even their number must still
be limited as it is well known that many of them have ,
been lost in course of time. The first class, f. i., comprised,
according to Koch, 73 verbs, of which less than one half
only 34 have survived; all the rest have disappeared.
Part of them gave up their place to French verbs, teldan
to cover, hlimman to sound, grimman to rage, linnan to
cease, prvingan to constrain, hweorfan to return &c; in other
cases, there existed already in AS. two words conveying
the same idea, and one of them, seeming to be superfluous,
was dropped. It is curious to see that in such cases the
language generally preferred a weak verb to a strong one;
so: pencean, pyncan to think to simian, teolian to toil to
srvincan, clcensian to cleanse to sweorfan, ascian to ask to
gefregnan. What has been stated with regard to one
class , applies of course to all others, and as besides in
Modern English we sometimes find a weak form by the side
of a strong one, we are fully, entitled to draw the conclusion
that in process of time weak verbs became preponderating,
and consequently the number of words formed by means of
Ablaut less frequent; and that, on the other hand, in a stage
of the language of which no monuments are extant, the
number of strong verbs and that of their derivatives was
greater than in AS. And indeed, it does not unfrequently
happen that some of the old Teutonic dialects represent the
strong verb which has been lost in AS. In other cases,
the existing Ablaut -formations clearly point to a lost root-
verb, of which Grimm also enumerates a certain number;
it needs, however, hardly be added that we cannot proceed
too cautiously on this hypothetical ground.
There is still another change of vowel to be taken into
account which, essentially differing from Ablaut, is often to
be met with in words created by means of Ablaut. The
endings which added to the root, served to form verbs and
substantives, exercised, in their turn, an influence on the
root -vowel. This change is called Umlaut; and in AS. it is
particularly produced by a following 2, by which a preceding-
deep vowel is rendered more light and clear. The complete
scheme for the I -Umlaut in AS. is:
a becomes e u becomes y u becomes y
a ae ea y ea y
6 e eo y eo y
(cp. Koch Gr. p. 43, 38; March, A Comparative Grammar
of the AS. Tongue 32). As we shall have instances of
all these changes, it is not necessary to give any here.
The words, derived from strong verbs by means of Ab-
laut, with which in many cases Umlaut has been combined,
may naturally he divided into three classes: either they are
verbs, or they are substantives, or lastly adjectives.
The strong verbs which are, if not the oldest, yet the
most characteristic constituents of the vocabularies of the
Teutonic dialects, form as it were a stock which may well
be diminished but which does not allow of any augmentation.
Thus it is impossible that they should have procreated strong-
verbs; in spinnan span spunnen and spannan spbn spanen
we have two different roots, as also the significations in AS.
to spin and to allure have nothing in common. It is the
same in scafan scdf scafen to shave and sceofan sce&f scufon
sco fen to shove. All the verbs, on the contrary, derived
from strong verbs, are weak ones, i. e. they express tense
not by changing their root-vowel, but by composition with
de(te). A characteristic sign of AS. weak verbs is their
Present-stem ending in ia (Inf. iari). In many stems i has disap-
peared, not, however, without leaving traces of its existence ;
either it has geminated the last consonant of the root, lecgan
(= legion], sellan (= selian) dippan (= dipian}, or it has
been the cause of Umlaut taking place, mcenan, sprengan,
styrman. The most simple and natural way of forming
weak verbs from strong ones was only to change the ending,
that is to say, to use the same root for the formation of a
strong and a weak verb. As by this proceeding the idea
expressed by the strong verb could hardly be modified,
several weak verbs were in AS. indiscriminately employed
by the side of strong ones, until at last they succeeded to
supersede the latter, to grin, to elope, to love, to step, to
well, to wield are based on the weak verbs grinjan, ah-ledpian,
leofjan, steppan, wellan, wyldan, which, in their turn, have
taken the place of strong verbs, viz. grman, hledpan, leofan,
stapan, weallan, wealdan.
Only one verb, corresponding in its form to those just
mentioned, differs in its signification. This verb is to fell,
from fellan, which exists by the side of fyllan as wellan by
the side of wyllan, the forms with e having been ultimately
preferred in order to distinguish these words from to fill =
to make full, and the auxiliary verb / will. To fell is the
transitive form of to fall and has taken a causative meaning,
signifying to cause to fall, to prostrate. In that respect it
is connected with a whole group of verbs to which, quite
in the same way, the vowel e imparts a transitive meaning,
in which, however, e is not the Umlaut of the vowel exhibited
by the Present Tense, but of that which in found in the
Perfect Tense. The vowel a (ce) of which e is the Umlaut,
being employed in the Perfect Tense of the first three classes
of the second division of strong verbs, all the transitive verbs
with causative meaning, derived from strong verbs and
exhibiting the vowel e, belong to one of these three categories.
I. to bind (AS. bindari) to tie together ; to bend (AS. bendan)
to make a thing apt to be tied with another one, i. e. to
render curved, to crook something by straining it.
to blink (AS. blincan) to wink, to shut one's eyes on a
sudden; to blench (AS. blencari) to make one shut his eyes,
as by a sudden fright, to hinder, prevent; generally in a
transitive sense like to blink.
to drink (AS. drincari)', to drench (AS. drencan) to cause
(a horse) to drink.
to stink (AS. stincari); to stench (AS. stencan) to cause
that something stinks.
to quinch (AS. quincan), originally to go out, then trans-
ferred to other kinds of rapid movement; to quench (AS.
quencan) to cause to go out, to put out, to extinguish.
to wind (AS. windari); to wend (AS. wendan] originally
like G. wenden, to cause something to wind itself. But
very early to wend has taken an intransitive sense =
It has been somewhat different in AS. blindan 'turbid urn,
nubilum esse', AS. blendan to cause something to become
turbidum, nubilum ; i. e. a) to mix things together so that
they cannot be easily distinguished, b) to render the eyesight
dim. That these two meanings might be distinguished, the
signification b) was transferred to to blind, which after the
original strong verb had been quite lost, was formed from
the adjective blind.
In AS. belonged to the same category: scrincan screnean;
sincan sencan; springan sprcngan; stringan strengan; in all
these cases, however, the weak forms were not possessed
of sufficient vitality to exist by the side of the strong ones:
the latter, on the contrary, have also taken their functions.
A different way was taken in AS. singan, AS. sengan to
cause to sing, i. e. to give a particular sound as that of
light objects being burnt; then to burn slightly; the idea of
AS. sengan, for which we should expect sench (cp. blench,
drench, stench), has, however, not been expressed by change
of vowel, but by a modification of the last consonant.
There is no Umlaut in steorfan perire, stearfjan perdere ;
to starve, in Modern English, has both these significations.
II. AS. crvelan to be tormented, to die; AS. cwelian,
cwellan to kill and to quell: two parallel forms derived from
the same AS. word.
III. to lie (AS. licgan)-, to lay (AS. lecgan) to cause to
lie, to put or place.
AS. crvican to move (cp. quick)] AS. cwacjan, crveccan
= to quake, originally to make something move; then-
crvican having been lost, in an intransitive sense, to tremble,
to sit (AS. sittan) ; to set (AS. settan) to cause to sit,
to put or place.
To these may be added: to tear (AS. terari), to tar to
cause to tear, to incitate, derived from Fr. tarier, which
is based on a weak Germanic verb, OHG. zerjan; cp. Diez,
Etymol. Worterb. II, p. 436.
The same causative meaning is in some derivatives
from the Perfect Tense of verbs, belonging to the fifth class.
to bite (AS. Utari)] to bait (AS. batjan, bcetari) to set
the dogs at somebody, to provoke.
AS. blican to shine, "blcecan to make shining, to bleach.
AS. ntian to sail, to go; Icedan to lead.
to rise (AS. a-nsari), rear (AS. a-rceran) to bring up to
maturity. A less tropical meaning is exhibited by another
form in which Umlaut has not taken place, viz. to raise
(AS. a-rdsjan) to cause to rise, to uplift.
f lihan to lend ; Icenan to loan (about the change of ce
into oa sec Matzner Gr. p. 121) to cause a person to lend,
f strican to go ; streccan to stretch.
To these verbs may be added one belonging 1 to the
fifth class: bugan to bow, to bend; bygan (from the Perfect
Tense bedti) to cause to bend, to buy, from an ancient
symbol; see Grimm, Rechtsaltertttmer 608.
Many of the verbs, however, derived from verbs belonging
to Cl. I and VI, and exhibiting the vowel of the Perfect
Tense, particularly those in which Umlaut has not been
employed, have not a factitive meaning, but are used to
render the idea expressed by the strong verb, more intense,
or to impart to it a particular shade.
I. to climb (AS. climban); to clamber has the same
meaning as to climb, with the only difference that by the
ending er, expressing repetition, the single movements by
which we advance in climbing, are rendered more conspicuous.
to wind (AS. windan)] to wander (AS. wandrian or
wandlian). Both in to wander and to clamber the suffix
seems to have prevented Umlaut from taking place.
to wring (AS. wring an) \ to wrench (wrencan); it has
the same meaning as to wring, the action expressed by it
is only more keen and intense.
VI. f gman\ to yawn (AS. gdniati).
to gripe (AS. gnpati) to 'seize and hold fast with the
hand; to grope (AS. grdpjan) to endeavour to find something
by touching and feeling, a particular kind of griping.
f sniftan to slit, still existing as an adjective snith =
piercing, cutting ; to snathe to top trees.
to strike (AS. strican) to touch with a blow, to hit with
some force ; to stroke (AS. slrdcjan) gently to move the hand
along the surface of something. In the same way have been
formed, although an AS. root-verb does not exist, to pike and
t grinan; to groan (AS. grdnjan).
Mian (see Grimm N. 492) partiri; to deal, to dole (AS.
dee Ian, cp. to loan p. 37) to divide, to distribute.
In two words, belonging to 01. VI, the weak form with
the vowel of the Perfect Tense has succeeded in superseding
the strong one, viz. reofan to reave (redfjari), preotan to
Having thus enumerated the verbs showing the vowel
of the Perfect Tense of verbs, belonging to 01. 1, II, III, V,
and VI, we have still the fourth class left, which has o in
its Perfect Tense. In the weak verbs, derived from it, we
consequently expect e (ee). But it is only in one case that
here we have both the strong and the weak form, and in
that case the strong verb only exists in AS.: f sacan to
fight; secan to seek. And yet, not a small number of verbs
having been formed quite in the same way, we are
allowed to suppose that at an earlier stage of the English
language many more strong verbs, showing in their Present
Tense a, in their Perfect Tense d, were existing. The latter
vowel is still discernible in substantives and adjectives (cp.
also sake), to which the weak verbs apparently belong.
Thus are to be explained:
doom (AS. ddm), to deem (demon). boot (AS. bof), to
beet (AS. betari), to add fuel to the fire, formerly to improve.
food (AS. fdda), to feed (AS. fedan). cool (AS. col),
to keel (AS. celan). -- blood (AS. bldd), to bleed (AS. bledan).
whore (AS. hdre; as to the addition of rv, cp. Matzner,
Grammatik pp. 186 7), to hire (hyran). hood (AS. hdd) f
to heed (AS. hedan). brood (AS. brod), to breed (AS. bredan).
- moot (AS. mdtjan), to meet (AS. metan). AS. som, to
seem (AS. semian). OS. rvopan, to weep (AS. wepan).
OS. spod (G. sputn\ to speed (AS. spedan).
The English language thus employing the vowel of the
Perfect Tense in the formation of verbs, we may, even a
priori, suppose to find verbs which exhibit the vowel of the
Past Participle. As 1 have already mentioned that only in
01. I, II, and VI the vowel of the P. P. essentially differs
from that of the Present Tense, such verbs can only be
formed in those three classes; but the question even takes
a simpler form, because in fact we only find such derivatives
in Cl. I and VI. As to the meaning of these verbs, they
exhibit the same idea as is conveyed by the rootverb, not
in its generality, but somewhat modified and mostly applied
to one distinct object. In several cases the original strong
verb has been lost, and the derived weak verb has, also
with regard to its signification, taken its place. The number
of the verbs belonging to these groups, was much greater
in AS., and in modern English we do not often find both
the root-verb and that which shows the- vowel of its P. P.
/. to stint (AS. stintan) to confine within certain limits,
to stunt (AS. styntan) to hinder something from taking its
Goth, hinpan to take; from the Perfect Tense with Um-
laut has been formed to hent(d) (AS. hentari), to seize,
to pursue; from the P. P. to hunt (AS. huntian) to endeavour
to seize something, particularly, to pursue game with hounds.
Goth, gairdan; AS. gyrdan to gird.
f AS. grinnan; AS. grunian to grunt', the latter seems
however to have been influenced by F. grondir (*L.
VI. )* AS. dreopan ; AS. dropjan to drop ; AS. dry pan
f AS. deopan; AS. dyppan to dip.
AS. fleotan to fleet; flotjan to float.
AS. steoran styran to stear; AS. slyrian to stir.
AS. spreotan to sprout; AS. spryttan to sprit.
A particular development is to be stated in four verbs
which have oo: steopan stupian to stoop, dreopan dru-
pian to droop, u in both of them being the vowel exhibitid
by the Plural of the Preterit Tense. To them have been
joined two verbs which, according to rule, could not give
rise to sucb forms, viz. to swoon from swinan swan swinen,
to swoop from swipan swap swlpen.
It may be that the signification has been of some in-
fluence on these forms : all four of them expressing a move-
ment down to the ground, the dark vowel in its prolonged
form was perhaps preferred ; on the other hand, /, preceded
by rv, was in AS. often changed into u: wudu (widu\ wu-
duwe (widuwe), swura (swira); (see Koch, Grammatik 34).
Verbs, besides, may in English easily be derived from
substantives and adjectives, so that it is often difficult to
say which of them is the original word, either the substan-
tive and the adjective, or the verb. It is not surprising
that also here in some cases Umlaut is found: knot, s.,
a) knottjan to knot; b) cnyttan to knit. knoll, s., an elevation
of earth, a small hill; to knoll to ring the bell at a funeral.
The AS, verb cne(y)llan has disappeared, leaving, however,
the substantive knell (AS. cne(y)ll), the stroke of the funeral
bell. (These words give another instance of the transition
from the idea of movement to that of shape). -- A similar
proceeding seems to have taken place in loft. s. and to lift.
Of adjectives which have given rise to verbs, I mention:
broad (AS. brad)] to bread (AS. brcedan) to expand, to extend.
full] to fill (fyllan). foul (AS. ful) to defile (AS. d-fylan)
to render foul.
The second division of words derived from strong verbs
by means of Ablaut, is composed by substantives. Here,
too, we have to distinguish two categories of words: those
which show the vowel of the Perfect Tense, and those in
which the vowel of the Past Participle is to be met with.
The form of the substantives from the Perfect Tense
is generally that of the Perfect itself without any suffix
added, and it is only in a few cases that either a vowel
or a consonant has been joined to it. The AS. suffix a
has been reduced to a silent e in hare (AS. hara from hisan
Grimm No. 558) ? snake (AS. snaca from snlcan). It has modified
the final consonant in wretch (AS, rvrceca from wrecan).
In the same way, the AS. suffix u has been softened down
to e in namu (AS. namu from nimari), share (scearu from
sceran), scale (AS. scealu from scelan Gr. No. 563). w has
been amalgamated with #, and has produced w in law (AS.
/0w from licgan). The suffix e has disappeared in load
(-star) (AS. lafte iter from tffcm). - - The suffix fft has been
preserved in health (AS. haslft from helan). It has taken
the form of in height (AS. hedhfto from heohan Gr. 539).
/ already existed in AS. in ms/Y. (AS. crcefl from m'&<m
Gr. 541), draught (AS. dro^/ from dragari). en is to be
found in token (AS. tdcen from tihan). / with Umlaut
occurs in steeple (AS. stepel from stapan).
The influence exercised by the vowel of the Perfect
Tense on the signification of words belonging to this group
is not the same in all of them. March (Gr. 230) says:
'the vowels of the past denote result', but he is obliged to
add: *in many derivatives this force is lost'. 1 ) The following
remarks will prove, in how many instances the principle
given by March does not apply, and will at the same time
show how manifold the functions are which Ablaut has to
perform in these words.
1. If the verb has a transitive meaning, the correspond-
ing substantive often expresses* a concrete object which is
the result of the action of the verb. This seems to be the
proper domain of the vowel of the Perfect Tense as the
action must precede the object which is produced by it.
By far the greater number of substantives exhibiting the
vowel of the Perfect Tense have adopted this signification.
1. malt (AS. mealt from meltan), song (AS. sang from
singan), thong (from pingan), warp (AS. wearp from weor-
pan)j II. barn ^AS. beam from berari), name (AS. namu
from niman), breach (AS. brcec from brecan) III. fret in
fretwork &c. (AS. frost from fretan}, wreck (AS. wrccc from
') Sec Grimm, Grainmatik II, 88.
wrccan), law (AS. lagu from lecgan), IV. groove (AS. grof
from grafaii), draught (AS. rfro^l from dragan), stool (AS.
s?o/ from state Grimm 464) , doom (AS. dom from daman
Gr. 466), V. &a# (AS. bat from Zrctaw), sloat(s) (from slitan),
loan (AS. /w from fihau), token (AS. c?i from tihan), deal
(dcel from dilan), rope (AS. r^jy from ripari), VI. /;0t;e (AS.
sceaf from sceofan), throe (predf from preowan) &c.
2. The vowel of the Perfect Tense often serves to form
a concrete substantive of which the verb may be predicated.
As the same verb may be connected with many substantives,
it is obvious that mere chance has often determined the
particular meaning of the substantive; so hall, being'origin-
ally that which sounds , might quite as well have adopted
the signification of trumpet (cp. clarion) or of anything apt
to produce a loud sound. Such concrete substantives have
been formed from intransitive verbs as well as from transi-
tive verbs; in the latter case they often signify the object
or instrument which serves to produce the action of the
verb. To this class belong: I. hall (AS. heal from hellan),
bellow(s) (AS. bcelg from belgan), stamp (from sitinpari), wand
(from rvindari), hand (from Goth, hinpan), crank (from crin-
can), slang (from slingan); II. drvale (from dwelaii), tare (from
teran), scale (AS. scealu from scelan Gr. 563); IV. foot (AS.
fot from fatari), hook (from hacati)] V. dough (AS. dag from
digan Gr. 514), goad gad (AS. gad from gidan Gr. 506),
loam (AS. lam from Gr. 494); VI. leak (from lucan).
3. The vowel of the Perfect Tense expresses the action
of a verb rather in an abstract manner : the word has,
as it were, the signification of the infinitive used as a
substantive: I. damp (AS. dimpan Gr. 368), throng (AS.
prang from pringan)', III. craft (AS. crceft Gr. 541), smack
(AS. smcec Gr. 553); IV. wood (AS. wod from waclan\ V. shrove
(from serif an), stroke (from stricari), VI. height (AS. hedhfto
Gr. 539), need (AS. nedd mod Gr. 534).
4. In some cases the substantive, derived from the
Perfect Tense of the V th Class signifies the place where the
action of the verb is particularly apt to pass: glade (from
glidari), road (from ridan), strode (from stridari), load (from
lidan), abode (from abidan).
5. An animated object is rarely expressed by the Per-
fect form: wretch (AS. rvrceca from wrecan), swain (AS. swan
from swinari), neat (neat from neotari), hare (AS. hara from
hisan Gr. 550), snake (AS. snaca from smcan).
The substantives derived from the Past Participle of
strong- verbs are in their form similar to those of the
preceding group. Here, as well as there, we have a number
of substantives exhibiting the mere stem, the ending en of
the P. P. having been dropped. In other cases suffixes
have been added, so t in dolt (from dwelart), er in blunder
(from blindan), ster in bolster (from bellan), ling in foundling
(from findan\ ard in drunkard (from drincan\ uca in bullock
(AS. bulluca from bellari), el (with Umlaut) in bundel (AS.
byndel from bindan). a has disappeared in float (AS. flota),
drop (AS. dropa), sprot (AS. sprota).
As to the signification of these substantives, it is, as
may be anticipated, impossible to give a rule which applies
to all of them. In the greater number of words, however,
the substantive with the vowel of the P. P. has the meaning
of the P. P. and is, as it were, a compensation for the lost
faculty of the English language to use the P. P. as a sub-
stantive: I. bulk (from belgan), gulp (from gelpan), clump
(from climpan), rump (from rimpari), bundle (AS. byndel from
bindan), ground (AS. grund from grindan)^ word (AS. word
from weorpari)-, II. hole (AS. hoi from helari), mull (AS. mol
from melari), shore (AS. score from sceran); VI. drop (AS.
dropa from dreopan), lot (AS. hlot from hleotan\ shot (from
sceolan), loss (from leosan), lock (from lucan), bow (AS. boga
The substantive derived from the Past Participle may
also denote an object of which the verb may be predicated:
borough or burrow (from bergan), float (AS. flota from
In two cases the vowel of the P. P. signifies the object
by means of which the action of the verb is produced:
slot a, doorbolt (OHG sliogan), lid (AS. hlid from hlidan to
Now and then the vowel of the P. P. is found in sub-
stantives expressing 1 animated objects: bullock (AS. bulluca
from bellan), hound (AS. hund from hinpan), doll (from
Having thus given the general remarks suggested by
the form and the meaning of the substantives which have
been derived from strong verbs, I shall proceed to enumerate
them as completely as possible according to the six classes
to which they belong.
I. Pr. i (e, eo) Perfect ea (a) P. P. u (o).
Bellan to bell, still used = to cry like a hart or boar.
S. bell, the instrument which gives forth loud, ringing
sounds. bullock (AS. bulluca) a young bull; bull itself
seems not to have existed in AS.
Meltan to melt] s. milt, a concoquendo, solvendo succuni
(Grimm); malt (KS.mealf) barley moistened and dried.
Belgan to swell; bellows (AS. bcelg) the instrument which
sucks air, which swells. bulk that which is swollen, the
magnitude of a substance. boll a capsule. - - bolster a
long, thick cushion. Umlaut has taken place in AS.
bylig = bu(i)lge; the same word in the form of belg has
produced belly. bowl, although belonging to the same
root, has been taken from Fr. boule.
Gilpan to gulp, to swallow; gulp a draught.
Gildan to pay; the vowel I of the Present Tense has
been changed into e in geld fine, and in gelt tinsel; to the
same verb belong guild and guilt; the vowel of the P. P.
is to be found in gold.
Swimman to swim; swamp marsh, bog. It seems to be
the same word as AS. swam fungus G-. Schwamm, although
in similar cases the addition of an inorganic b was preferred.
Rimpan to rimple (see p. 21); rump the part of the body
which easily gets rumples or rimples.
Bindan to bind; band a ligament with which things
may be bound together; bond, the same form as band, used
generally when speaking of moral and legal obligations,
(as to the change of a and o before n + cons., see Koch 23,
Matzner I, p. 120). U, the vowel of the P. P. occurs with
Umlaut in bundle (AS. byndel) several things bound together.
Findan to find; foundling a child that has been found.
Grindan to grind; ground (AS. grund) what is ground,
the surface of the earth, soil.
Rindan to push; rand margo.
Windan to wind; wand a rod; as to wound (AS. wund)
and wonder (AS. wundor), see Gr. No. 383).
Crincan to yield, cp. crinkle p. 25; crank a bend or
Drincan to drink; drunkard an habitual drinker.
Geongan to go; gang a number of persons going together.
Sing an to sing; song (AS. sang) that which is sung.
Sting an to sting; stang a pole.
Swingan to swing; swang a bog; Miiller thinks it to be
= swamp; but beside the form not agreeing with this
etymology, swamp from swimman, and quagmire from quake,
both expressive of the same idea, seem to speak in favour
of the derivation from swingan.
Pringan to press; throng (AS. prang) a crowd.
Pwingan to constrain; thong (AS. pwang) that which
Wring an to wring; wrong (used as a subst., adj., and
beorgan to guard; borough (AS. burg) originally a
fortified town which protects. The same word in a some-
what different form is to be found in the names of places:
Canterbury, Newbury, Kingsbury.
weorpan to throw; warp (AS. wearp) texture, a technical
term in weaving.
weorpan to become; word (AS. word) an idea, as it
were, realized; wort (AS. wyri) a herb.
To this category we add with Grimm the following-
verbs which either exist in other Teutonic dialects or which
are suggested by extant derivatives:
OHG. hellan to sound; hall (AS. heal) a large, resounding
room or passage.
climpan; clamp a beam; clump a joist,
blindan; blunder a gross mistake.
dimpan (Gr. 368); ito</> moisture; dump(s) sadness; for
the transition in the meaning, cp. fumes, vapours, also Fr.
crimpan (Gr. 370); cramp a restraint or contraction.
slingan (Gr. 421); ste^ <a long narrow Strip of land'.
cp. MUller, Et. Worterbuch II, 344.
hindan (Goth, hinpan Gr. 395): hand = 'manus qua
capimus'; hound (AS. hund) 'canis qui capit'.
lingan (Gr. 423); lungs.
stimpan (Gr. 586); stamp a forcible impression with
something, the instrument which serves to give such an
impression; stump that part of a thick object, which remains
after the top has been cut off.
brinnan (Gr. 371); brand a burning piece of wood; brunt
_ the sudden collision of two things, fiery shock.
keornan (Gr. 613); kern; corn.
II. Pres. i. Perf. <fc, a. P. P. u. o,
drvelan to render torpid; drvale a poisonous plant which
causes sleepiness and torpidity, nightshade; dolt a heavy
helan to hide, to cover; health (AS. hcelft) the state of
being entirely covered i. e. sound, hole (AS. hoi) belongs,
according to Muller, to the same verb.
niman to take; name (AS. namu) that which an object,
emphatically speaking, takes or adopts.
beran to bear. From the Present Tense have been
derived: barley (AS. bere); barn (AS. bern), birth (AS.
byrd); berth (?); barm (AS. beorma), cp. G. Hefe from
heben. - - The vowel of the Perfect Tense is in barn (AS.
beam) that which has been borne, child. bier the instrument
which serves for bearing, has been taken from Fr. biere,
which, in its turn, is of Germanic origin, AS. beer = bier.
sceran to shear. From the Present Tense: shire (AS.
scire); sheriff (AS. scirgerefd), shirt; originally, any short
garment, a petticoat, an apron. From the Perfect Tense:
share (AS. scearu) a certain portion; shore the margin of
the land next to a sea or lake by which the sea or lake
is as it were separated from the land.
teran to tear; tare that which tears, a weed.
brecan to break. From the Present Tense: breach AS.
brice (Fr. breche). From the Perfect Tense: brake 'a place
overgrown with ferns and shrubs' (see M tiller Et. Wb., s. v.)
According to Grimm we have to add:
melan (Gr. 560); meal (AS. melu); mull (AS. mol).
scelan separare (Gr. 563); skill, with the vowel of the
Present Tense, properly, the faculty of separating and
distinguishing; scale(s) (AS, scalu) balance by which things
are separated ; scale (of a fish) (AS. scealu) ; scall scab, scurf.
III. Pres. e. Perf. ce. P. P. ai, I
we fan to weave; web that which is woven, has been
derived from the P. P. woof does not occur in AS.; o, it is
true, very early intrudes into the P. P. of the verbs belong-
ing to this class, but as AS. o is but rarely changed into
oo (cok = cook, sona = soon, see Matzner p. 122), woof
remains an anomalous formation.
gifan to give; gabel (AS. gafol) duty on salt, originally
that which is given ; this meaning has been preserved in gift.
fretan to eat away ; fret (AS. frcef) relieve, originally that
which is corroded.
tredan to tread; trade has been formed from a later
P. P., cp. woof; in trode, however, AS. o has regularly
developed itself into oo.
wrecan to wreak ; wretch (AS. wrceca);
licgan to lie; law (AS. lagu), cp. the same development
of meaning in G. setzen, Gesetz.
sittan to sit; seat (AS. scef) the thing on which we seat.
biddan to bid; bead (AS. bed), originally prayer.
sticcan to /;<; (Matziier; p. 389); stake; stock; steak seems
to have been derived from a Skandinavian source, see Miiller.
Besides, Grimm supposes the following verbs, belonging
to the same class, to have been lost: crifan (540), stifan
(540 b), stedan (545), hisan (550), smican (553), from which
he derives the substantives: craft, staff, stead, hare and hair,
IV. Pres. a. Perf. 6. P. P. a.
stapan to step; the vowel of the Present Tense has
been preserved in staple; the vowel of the Perfect Tense
with Umlaut in AS. stepel steeple. In stop the influence of
0. Fr. estoper from AS. stuppa tow, oakum, is not to be
grafan to dig, to grave; grave (AS. grcef)\ the same
word hnd, already in AS., the signification of lucus, grove]
as to the change of ce into o, cp. steel stole, brcek broke,
see Matzner p. 120; the original signification is: alley in a
wood, thence a small forest giving shade like the trees
shading a walk. The vowel of the Perfect Tense is in
AS. grbf groove channel or ditch.
bacan to bake; beech (AS. boce, bece), because that tree
was used for baking, cp. Gr. 9)7770$ connected with <p/fc>
to roast; the form with o without Umlaut has been preser-
ved in bdc book.
drag an to draw; draught (AS. droht).
hebban to heave \ hoof (AS. hdf) that which is heaved.
To these we add with Grimm:
daman (466) dom doom; laman (467) lorn loom; haran
(472 b) hore rvhore; batan bot boot; fatan fot foot;
fadan fod food; and probably: hacan hake (name of a
fish), hook (AS. hoc); flahan to flay floh flatv , originally
fragment, piece, then gap, fissure.
V. Pres. I. Perf. A. P. P. i.
ripan to gather; rap rope, that which consists of several
threads twisted together.
lifan to remain; life (AS. lif); loaf (AS. Mdf) that which
drifan to drive] drove (AS. drdf).
scrifan to shrive] shrove in shrove-tide, Shrove -Sunday,
Shrove-Tuesday, when people generally go to confess.
tntan to bite; bail (AS. bat).
slitan to slit] sloats the flat underpieces which keep the
bottom of a cart together.
abidan to abide] abode the place where we abide.
glidan to glide] glade an open passage in a wood.
ridan to ride] road (rdd), a way to ride on.
slidan to slide] slade a small protracted valley; in form
and meaning slade may well be compared with glade.
stridan to stride; strode stud.
hlldan to cover; lid (AS. Mid) that which covers.
lib an to move, to sail; AS. lad way has become load
a conduit in a mine ; the same word is found in load-stone,
smftan to slit; snathe the handle of a scythe.
tvri&an to writhe; wrath (AS. wrdft).
snican to sneak] snake (AS. snaca).
silicon to strike] stroke] a parallel form with stroke is
strake, see Matzner p. 114; streak shows the vowel of the
P. P. t, AS. strica.
By means of analogy seem to have been formed spike
spoke, cp. also pike poke p. 38, all three of them ending in k.
tlhan to draw; token (AS. tdcen) cp. G. ziehen and
llhan to lend; loan '(AS. fan).
aswman (Gr. 115) originally agi, ferri: swine (AS. swln)
animal quod pastuni agitur; swain (AS. swan) puer qui
We add with Grimm:
hilan (499), heat (AS. licet).
dllan (492), deal (AS. dcel) , dill (AS. dit)
liman (494), lime (AS. lim), loam (AS. Idm), limb (AS. Urn).
digan (514), dough (AS. ddg).
switan (500), sweat (AS. swat).
gldcm (506), goad (AS. gad)] another form of goad is
gad (AS. gced) burine.
cjliman (495), gleam (AS. glcem)] gloom (A8. glom), an
anomalous formation; the dark vowel perhaps stands in
relation with the meaning, cp. stoop &c. p. 40.
isan (512), ice (AS. is), iron (AS. iren) , ore (AS, wr).
VI. Pres. eo (A). Perf. ed. PL w. P. P. o.
dreopan to drop] drop (AS. dropa).
slupan to dissolve, to slit away; slope an inclined direction.
cleofan to cleave ; C/M/M c/<w, ; a part separated, appro-
priately the parts into which garlic separates when the outer
skin is removed'. Clove = spice from Fr. clou, from L. clavus.
s ceo fan to shove ; sheaf (AS. scedf) ; shovel (AS. sco/J).
leofan to love] love (AS. /w/>/).
preorvan to throe] throe (AS. f>redn>).
fleotan to flow ; /feetf (AS. /?^o#) ; AS. //oto ship is extant
in flotson stranded goods. To the same root belongs flood
geotan to pour; guts (AS. guttas) the intestinal canals
of an animal, into which things are poured.
hleotan to cast lots; lot (AS. hloi).
neotan frui; neat (AS. neat) animal quo fruimur. Gr.
sceotan to shoot] shot.
a-preotan to loathe, to irk ; ihreal (AS. predt) a menace
which irks somebody.
beodan to bid] AS. bad mandatum and boda nuntius
have disappeared; the latter signification has been preserved
in beadle (AS. bydet)] as to the not very frequent change
of AS. y into ea, see Matzner p. 110.
creodan to crowd] crowd (AS. croda)\ by metathesis
of r, the same word has given curds, for which, according
to Wedgwood, also cruds occurs.
freosan to freeze] frost.
icos:m to loose ; loss.
lucan to lock; leek (AS. leak), k ab aperieiido folia' Grimm;
lock (AS. loc) anything that fastens.
bugan to bow] botv and bough have been derived from
smugan to creep, to supple round somebody; smock a
habit which sits tight and loose; the same word with Umlaut
and diminutive suffix is smicket.
teohan to tug\ tug (AS. tyge).
breotan to break; bread (AS. bread) that which is broken
(Grimm), or from breodan to brew, bake. According to
Grimm we, have to add:
sleolan (226); slot.
geoman (516); bride^roo/M (AS. gurna).
freonan (520); thunder (f>wwr).
heopan (524); heap (heap); hop (heope).
steopan (526); stop.
streopan (527); strypan to stripe, strap and strop (AS.
greolan (531); grit (AS. greol); grout (AS. grui)\ groats
has taken the same development as slope &c.
sneotan (532); snot.
meodan (538); meed (AS. md).
leolian (538), lie (AS. ledh).
heohan (539); height (AS. hedh&o).
The number of Adjectives derived from strong verbs by
means of Ablaut is much smaller than that of verbs and
substantives. Exhibiting, as for the greater part they do,
the vowel of the Perfect Tense, the express like a number
of substantives with the same vowel, the result of an action.
Some adjectives show the vowel of the P. P.; particularly
those which have m, /, or r after the root vowel. I may
add that some of the substantives mentioned in the last
pages are also used as adjectives, according to the well-
known principle of the English language to employ the same
word without any alteration for quite different parts of
speech; f. i. damp (s., a., adj.) ; wrong (s., adj., and v.).
I. grimman to rage; grim wild, angry; grum surly.
crincan to yield; AS. crane weak, near to death, is in
Modern English a ferm of marine = in danger to tilt over;
in other significations, there seems to have taken place a
confusion with rank, cp. Mtiller s. crank.
rvinnan to take pains, to fight; wan having fought, being
tired, looking tired and worn out, i. e. pale.
simian (Gr. 385); slant sloping.
blincan (Gr. 406); blank shining. The word being however
but rarely used in AS., it seems to have been taken from
lingan (Gr. 423); long (AS. la(o)ng)', perhaps like blank
due to French influence.
stringan (Gr. 425); strong (AS. stra(o)ng).
dimban (Gr. 591); dim dark; in a tropical sense, dumb
II. dwelan; dull (AS. dot).
helan to hide, cover; hollow derived from hole.
sceran to shear; short, originally having lost something
from its original length.
III. ' witan (Gr. 543); wet (AS. rvcef).
IV. wadan to rush; wood rushing as people do when
in a rage.
granan (Gr. 468); with Umlaut, green (AS. gren).
V. scinan to shine; sheen (AS. scene) = brilliant; the
obsolete shone, bearing the same signification, is based on
the 0. E. Perfect form shon.
btican to shine ; black and bleak (AS. bide and blac).
mean to yield; weak (AS. wedk\ for the change from
ea into ea cp. Matzner p. 110.
bridan pandere (Gr. 162); broad (AS. brdd).
hitan (Gr. 499); hot (AS hdt).
VI. deofan to dive; deaf (AS. deaf),
reodan to redden; red (AS. read).
heohan attollere (Gr. 509); high (AS. heati).
steopan fundere (Gr. 526); steep (AS. stedp).
In the foregoing pages I have tried to enumerate the
words which have been derived from strong verbs by
means of Ablaut. As since the time of the Norman con-
quest the English language in the declension as well as in
the formation of words has preferred the synthetical method
to the analytical one, it is not surprising that in AS. the
number of words formed in that way was much greater
than in the modern speech. But though only existing in a
reduced number, these words are of the highest value, as
they prove that also in the formation of words the English
language has preserved one of the essential characteristics
of all Teutonic dialects.
Verlag von MAX NIEMEYER in Halle a /S,
Unter der presse beiindet sich und erscheint um ostern:
Zum gebrauche bei vorlesungen und zum selbstuntemclit
Prof. Dr. Richard Paul Wiiieker.
die zeit von 13501500 umfassend.
Tuhalt: 1. *Die 7 busspsalmen. 2. Oratio magistrr Richardi. -
3. *Lied an die jungfrau. 4. *Marienlied. - - 5. *Lied aitf Adam. -
(>. *Gebet fur den konig. 7. Gott sende uns geduld. 8. Nichtigkeit
tier welt. 9. Falschheit der welt. -- 10. *Leben der Elisabeth. 11.
1 Vision des Tundalus. 12. "Owayne. 13. Patience. 14. Gesiehte
Williams iiber Peter den pfliiger. 15. *Gowers Confessio amantis. -
It). *Hoccleves De regimine principum 17. La male regie de Hoceleve.
18. *Gereimte Ubersetzung des Boetius. -- 19. Barbours Bruce. -
20. *Wintowns chronik. 21. *Hardings chronik. -- 22. William von
Palerne. -- 23. Zerstorung von Troia. -- 24. Chaucers Canterburyge-
schichteu. -- 25. Chaucers Troylus und Cryseyde. 26. ; Lidgates ge-
schiehte von Theben. -- 27. Arthurs tod. -- 28. Lancelot vora see. -
29. Chaucers spriiche. 30. Rondels. 31. Virelai. 32. Goldnes zeit-
alter. 33. -Ratselgedicht. 34. *Gedichte Karls von Orleans. 35.
Parlament der liebe. -- 30. Die mitleidlose schone. -- 37. 'Coventry
mysterien. - - 38. * Chester-spiele. -- 39. Bibeliibersetzung des Niclas
von Hereford nebst der von Purvey. -- 40. Wycliifes iibersetzung. -
41. Chaucers Canterbury-geschichten. 42, *Geschichte der 3 ktfnige.
- 43. Chaucers Boetius. -- 44. -Zwiegesprk'ch. -- 45. *Buch des La
Tour Landry. -- 46. *Maundevilles reisen. 47. *Trevisas iibersetzung.
- 48. Uebersetzung des Polychronicon. 49. Capgraves chronik. 50.
Geschichte Merlins. Anmerkungen. Glossar.
Gegeniiber dem ersten teile zeichnet sich der zweite teil dadurcli
aus, dass, sobald die darin benutzten texte nicht fur die Early English
Text Society oder von ganz zuverlassigen herausgebern ediert wurden,
dieselben nach den handschriften abgedruckt sind (diese texte sind mit
* versehen). Es findet sich auch mehreres ungedruckte darin. In den
umtanglichen anmerkungen werden die schwierigen stellen der texte er-
klitrt, im glossar die dariu enthaltenen worter mit moglichstei vollsiiin-
digkeit gegeben. Erne tabelle der Altenglischen literaturgeschichte (1250
bis 1500), wie eine iibersicht der Altenglischen formenlehre wahrend des
13. 16. jhds. soil das ganze werk beschliessen.
words thS form&tlon of English
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