Thursday, August 22, 2019

Language of Confusion: Loud

Hey, I did quiet. Might as well do the opposite.

…I didn’t have any other ideas.

Loud showed up in Middle English first, coming from the Old English hlud, which meant something that made noise (like aloud), and was indeed pronounced with the H. It comes from the Proto Germanic hludaz, heard, from the Proto Indo European klutos-, from kleu-, to hear. So we got rid of the K and started pronouncing it with an H, but that was too much for us so we got rid of that, too.

Noise showed up in the thirteenth century, but at first it meant either a noise of any kind or the sound of a musical instrument. It took it until the mid thirteenth century before it started meaning loudness or clamor. It comes from the Old French noise, which means din or uproar, as well as things like disturbance and brawl. Some people think it might be from the classical Latin nausea (which means, you know, nausea), and others think it might be from noxia, toxic, but those aren’t totally accepted theories. Weirdly enough, the word noisome isn’t related to noise. It’s actually from annoy.

Next we’re looking at din, which isn’t a word we hear much these days because it was actually overtaken by noise. It comes from the Old English dyne, din, which is related to the verb dynian, to make a noise, and I’m kind of disappointed that we don’t have that word any more. We can only say “to make a noise”, not have a single neat verb for it. Anyway! It comes from the Proto Germanic duniz, from the Proto Indo European dwen-, to make noise. Why didn’t we keep that verb?!

Let’s see, what else can we look at? Raucous is fairly recent, having an actual year to date its appearance: 1769. It comes from the classical Latin raucus, which means hoarse, from the Proto Indo European base reu-, to make hoarse cries (but not horse cries). Reu- is an echoic word, meaning it sounds like what it means. So because hoarse noises sound like “reu” I guess, that gives us raucous, because hoarse noises are raucous? I don’t know. I’m too tired to figure this one out.

Tony Jebson’s page on the Origins of Old English


  1. Noise and noisome aren't related? Funny how words can end up with similar qualities but not be of the same origins.

  2. I think din was also confused with den too often since we don't annunciate those differences very well. Of course, we don't much use den anymore, either, unless we're talking about animals, and who does that?

  3. I still use the word 'din' sometimes. Guess I must be old-fashioned.

  4. Oh, 8th graders certainly make a din. Now I have "Beautiful Noise" stuck in my head.


Please validate me.