Changes To Old English Vocabulary - Body Parts

Body Parts

  • earsgang: 'anus'. Anus did not enter English until 1658 and was adopted directly from Latin, with no intermediary. The OED says that arse (the ears of earsgang is its etymon) is "obsolete in polite use". The AHD tags ass as "vulgar slang". As late as 1704, Jonathan Swift wrote "after your Arse" in his book The Battle of the Books, which simply meant 'behind you'. (See setl, ūtgang.)
  • feorhbold, feorhhold, feorhhus: 'body'. (See also: līc, līcfæt, līchoma.)
  • hrēsel: 'radius (bone). The word radius is of Latin origin and its specific anatomical meaning was first used in English in 1615.
  • līc: 'body','trunk'. Līc (which was at various times spelled like, lich, lych, lyche and lyke) is attested as far back as around 900 and the last citation given with this more general meaning is from around 1400. However, the last citation with the meaning of 'corpse' is from 1895. The word now survives only in obscure compounds such as lych-gate, lych-owl (so called because its screeching was thought by some to portend death) and lyke-wake (the watch kept over a dead body at night). The word is etymologically related to like, so its original meaning is thought to be 'form', 'shape'. (See also: feorhbold, feorhhold, feorhhus, līcfæt, līchoma.) Compare with the following words in other languages for 'corpse': German Leiche, Dutch lijk, Swedish lik, Norwegian lik and Danish lig.
  • līcfæt, līchoma: 'body'. (See also: feorhbold, feorhhold, feorhhus, līc.) Compare with German Leichnam ('corpse'), Dutch lichaam, Swedish lekamen, Nynorsk lekam and Danish legeme.
  • lið: 'joint', 'limb'. Lið (later spelled lith) is attested as early as around 900 and the latest citation in the OED is 1872. The OED considers all modern occurrences to be archaic or dialectic. The word limb, also of Germanic origin, has come to replace lið. Compare with German Glied, Dutch lid, Swedish led, Danish led and Norwegian ledd.
  • midhriðre: 'diaphragm'.
  • nebb: 'face'. The OED gives the modern definitions of the Scottish, Irish English, Northern English for neb, such as 'bird's beak' and 'an animal's nose', but the last citation given with the meaning 'a person's face' is from 1525. (See also: ondwlita, onsīen.) Compare English ness ('promontory'), Dutch neb ('beak').
  • ōcusta, ōxn: 'armpit'. Armpit first appeared in English as arme-pytt in around 1400. It is probably related to such English words as axis and axle and the Latin axilla, from PIE *aks-, or similar. It has survived as the English dialectal oxter ('armpit', 'arm'). Compare with Dutch oksel.
  • ondwlita: 'face'. (See also: nebb, onsīen.) Compare with German Antlitz, Swedish anlete.
  • onsīen: 'face' (See also: nebb, ondwlita.) Compare with German Angesicht, Dutch aangezicht.
  • ōxn: 'armpit'. (See also: ōcusta.)
  • setl: 'anus'. (See also: earsgang, ūtgang.)
  • teors: 'penis'. (See also: wæpen.) Penis, which did not enter English until 1578, was borrowed directly from Latin.
  • ūtgang: 'anus'. Literally 'exit', 'out-path', (See also: earsgang, setl.) Compare German Ausgang, Dutch uitgang ('exit').
  • wæpen: 'penis'. (See also: teors.)
  • wiðobān: 'collarbone'.

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Famous quotes containing the words parts and/or body:

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