Thursday, August 18, 2022

Language Of Confusion: Cooked, Not Really At All, Part II

More words related to the Proto Indo European pekw-, to cook or ripen, although these ones… well, it’s a lot less obvious.
You might think this makes sense, since a recipe is a concoction and recipe means cooking, but the truth is much stupider than that. See, when concoct first showed up in the mid sixteenth century, it meant to digest, not meaning something you make until the late seventeenth century, and a more general plan until the late eighteenth century. Concoct comes from the classical Latin concoctus, which means cooked, from the verb concoquere, to digest. Coquere we talked about a lot last week as it’s the origin for cooked, and with the prefix con-, together, the word is to cook together. And that’s how we got concoct.
Finally, something related to the ripen part of pekw-. Apricot showed up as the word abrecock in the mid sixteenth century, coming from the Catalan word for the fruit abercoc. That’s actually from the Arabic al-birquq, plum, related to the Byzantine Greek berikokkia. That one is thought to be from the Latin praecoquum, which means early ripening, possibly because apricots used to be thought of as a variety of peach that ripened early. Now this is the kind of ridiculousness I expect from etymology.
Kind of unexpected, right? Peptide is fairly recent, having shown up in 1906 from the German peptid, related to peptone, which is what they called pieces of food being digested. Peptic is much older, having shown up in the mid seventeenth century in relation to digestion. It’s from the classical Latin pepticus, peptic, from the Greek peptikos, digestive, and the verb form of that, peptein, is of course from pekw-. Well, you certainly shouldn’t be digesting things that aren’t cooked or ripened.
Yes, really. This is actually related to apricot’s “early ripening” thing. Precocious showed up in the mid seventeenth century, but originally it meant flowers or fruits that ripened early, before taking on a more figurative meaning. It comes from the classical Latin praecox, precocious or ripening early, with the prae- meaning before, and the rest coming from coquere—though in this case it means to ripen rather than its literal definition of to cook. If it’s not cooked, it’s not ripened. Or something.
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. Yup, definitely didn't expect precocious to show up here. But then again, I rarely have expectations when it comes to etymology. It's best not to.


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