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Pairs of words surprisingly unrelated
Posted: 25 June 2010 05:39 PM   [ Ignore ]
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In the Bliss/Bless thread I was told isle and island were unrelated, and (after I checked this with a few sources) I fell quite off my chair.

So what are your favourite examples of words that you would assume without a moment’s thought to be related, due to similarity in form and a connection in meaning, but aren’t?

Probably mine is compound (meaning something put together) and compound (cluster of buildings with a shared purpose). The reason that this is my favourite is that they are exact homonyms, and because compound2 really IS a kind of compound1: the buildings have been put together, sort of.

In a lot of such cases, our old mate w.assim has probably played a hand. That might be the case with isle/island as well.

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Posted: 25 June 2010 10:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Foreign and sovereign had a g inserted in their original spelling to make them look related with reign which they are not. Galicia (a Spanish province) and Galicia (partially in Belarus) have unrelated etymologies. The same is true of the cities of Brest in Bretagne and Belarus, respectively. The verb to peter might or might not be related with the name Peter.

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Posted: 26 June 2010 02:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I only just found out, mere seconds ago, that shock (mass of wild hair) has no connection to shock (surprise).

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Posted: 26 June 2010 06:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Neither have race (as in stock car race) and race (as in human race).

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Posted: 26 June 2010 07:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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’Sleeve’ as in part of a garment isn’t related to ‘sleave’ as in filament of silk, but then I imagine most people have only encountered the latter in the linen from Macbeth about sleep knitting up the ravelled sleave of care, and probably most of them think it’s just an archaic spelling for the former.

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Posted: 26 June 2010 09:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Further examples: turtle (reptile) and turtle (bird), boil (noun) and boil (verb).

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Posted: 26 June 2010 09:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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I think some of the later examples cannot be said to be surprisingly unrelated since their meanings are quite different.

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Posted: 26 June 2010 09:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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I guess that since cleave and cleave have opposite meanings, it is obvious to Senning that they are unrelated, but I find it quite amazing.

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Posted: 26 June 2010 09:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Another example: key (as in lock and key) and key (as in the Florida Keys).

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Posted: 26 June 2010 10:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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sleep knitting up the ravelled sleave of care, and probably most of them think it’s just an archaic spelling for the former.

thank you, kurwamac, i was one of the former. it was worth reading the whole thread (which is trifling, but fun, like a game of ciphers and crosses) just to learn that.

Mass - a property of matter, and Mass, a Christian religious sacrament

stalk stem) and stalk (hunt)

It starts to get boring after a bit, like the fiftieth game of noughts and crosses.

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Posted: 26 June 2010 10:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Myridon - 26 June 2010 09:33 AM

I guess that since cleave and cleave have opposite meanings, it is obvious to Senning that they are unrelated, but I find it quite amazing.

It would be even more amazing if two homonyms of opposite meaning had the same etymology!

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Posted: 26 June 2010 01:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Meal (ground grain) and meal (food, time for eating), together with piecemeal, have independent etymologies.

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Posted: 26 June 2010 03:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Cash, currency, and cash, a name for various Asian coins.

[ Edited: 26 June 2010 04:32 PM by Dr. Techie ]
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Posted: 26 June 2010 04:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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I think I have a triple whammy: mean (adjective), mean (noun), and mean (verb).

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Posted: 26 June 2010 06:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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I would not count “mean”, “key”, “race” as examples. There’s no apparent semantic connection, so it is not surprising that the words are unrelated.
Same for lionello’s “mass” and “stalk”.

I’ll give you “meal”, that’s a surprise.

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Posted: 26 June 2010 11:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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We could also look at the verb pairs have/behave and long/belong. The first one is related by etymology (despite different vowel quality), the latter is not.

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