Thursday, January 28, 2021

Language Of Confusion: Pere-ing Down, Part I

This is definitely going to be several parts long, which is good, because I’m still too emotionally exhausted to actually think up new words. Everything we’ll be looking that is related in some way to the Proto Indo European root pere-, which means to produce or procure, and shows up in a lot of words which you probably won’t believe are related. For example…
Pare. You know, like you do to a fruit. It showed up in the fourteenth century, coming from the Old French parer, arrange, prepare, or adorn. That’s from the classical Latin parare, to prepare, and that one is from pere-. Paring a fruit was preparing it, so now pare means to whittle something down.
Next is kind of obvious: prepare. It showed up in the mid fifteenth century, so after pare, although preparation actually showed up in the late fourteenth century. It’s from the Old French preparer and classical Latin praeparare, to prepare. The prae- prefix means before, so prepare is to prepare beforehand. People are being really prepared.
Next we’ll be getting into some “what the hell” ones. Apparel—yes, like clothes—showed up in the late thirteenth century as a verb meaning to make preparations. In the fourteenth century, it showed up as a noun meaning fighting equipment or armor, which morphed through the century to mean clothing in general. Apparel comes from the Old French apareillier (verb) and apareil (noun), which are from the Vulgar Latin appariculare. That’s then from the classical Latin apparare, preparations, with the prefix from ad- meaning to and the rest from parare. Apparel means to prepare to. Apparare is also the origin word of apparatus, which showed up in the early seventeenth century meaning a collection of tools or a means to an end. Apparatus literally means machine in Latin, and it’s the past participle of apparare. So that’s why we have that.
Parry showed up in the seventeenth century, meaning it’s a fairly recent word. It comes from the French (that is, Modern French, not Old French) parez, parry, from the verb parer, to parry or ward off. That’s from the Italian parare, which also means to parry, and that’s from the Latin root para-, which is from the Latin version of parare. To make preparations, to ward off, you can see how they’re related. It’s also the origin for a lot of words with para- in them, like parachute, parapet, and parasol, but not all of them, as there’s another para- root word that has a totally different definition. Basically, if it has to do with defense or preparations in some way, it’s probably from the words we’re looking at today.
Okay, I think that’s all for today. Don’t worry, there’s plenty more where that came from.
Online Etymology Dictionary
Google Translate
University of Texas at Austin Linguistic Research Center
University of Texas at San Antonio’s page on Proto Indo European language
Encyclopaedia Britannica


  1. Parry is rarely used in that context, but there is an Ontario town called Parry Sound.

  2. So, not father then. (Although the French has accents on the Es.) (Yeah, I got nothing. Interesting stuff, though.)

  3. Etymology of prepare makes lot of sense!

  4. I guess it makes sense that prepare and apparel are related.

  5. Interesting - the different forms of language.

  6. I really won't to make some Better Off Dead jokes.


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