One can sort of tell that the word for trebuchet (the superior siege weapon) is French, because of the silent t and the ch which sounds more like an sh. And, it is indeed, having derived from the Old French trebuchier, which meant either "to overthrow" or "to topple". Here we can break it up into the prefix tre- or tra-, implying displacement, and the root buchier, an unattested verb meaning "trunk of the body". Tra- comes from the Latin word trans, meaning "across" or "between" and coming from the Proto-Indo-European root terh, meaning "throughout". Buchier comes from the noun buc, also having to do with the torso. This, surprisingly, comes from Old Frankish, in this case from the word buk, with the same meaning. This in turn comes from Proto-Germanic bukaz ("belly"), from Proto-Indo-European bow, meaning "to inflate", as in a belly is inflated. Trebuchet was coined in English in the fourteenth century, peaked in usage in the 1640s, and has recently experienced something of a comeback as it grows popular in modern culture.
Adam Aleksic is a 221-month-old, 2800-ounce high school senior with disturbing interests in etymology, vexillology, geography, board games, limericks, and law. Adam will be studying linguistics at Harvard University in the fall.
The Etymology Nerd