Reich - Etymology

Etymology

Look up Appendix:Proto-Germanic/rīkijan in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
Look up Appendix:Proto-Germanic/rīks in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.

The German noun Reich is derived from Old High German rīhhi, which together with its cognates in Old English rice Old Norse rîki and Gothic reiki is from a Common Germanic *rīkijan. The English noun is extinct, but persists in composition, in bishop-ric. The German adjective reich, on the other hand, has an exact cognate in English rich. Both the noun (*rīkijan) and the adjective (*rīkijaz) are derivations based on a Common Germanic *rīks "ruler, king", reflected in Gothic as reiks, glossing ἄρχων "leader, ruler, chieftain".

It is probable that the Germanic word was not inherited from pre-Proto-Germanic, but rather loaned from Celtic (i.e. Gaulish rīx) at an early time.

The word has many cognates outside of Germanic and Celtic, notably Latin rex and Sanskrit raja "king". It is ultimately from a Proto-Indo-European root *reg-, meaning "to straighten out" or "rule".

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