A PUPIL OF ETYMOLOGY
While working on my eye infographic, I stumbled into the interesting question of whether the words pupil (meaning "student") and pupil (the part of the eye) are related. Turns out that the story is quite interesting. The first definition of pupil came from the French word pupille, which meant "orphan", since many orphans became students, supposedly? This is from its Latin etymon pupillus, with the same meaning. This is a diminutive of the earlier word pupus, or"boy". Pupil meaning "the part of the eye", however, derives from the French homonym of the previous word pupille, which in this case meant "little doll", so named because of the tiny reflections of people you see when looking into someone's pupil. This is from Latin pupa ("girl"), which, unsurprisingly, is the feminine form of the word pupus, "boy" (the word pupa, incidentally, is in English, meaning "maggot". This ties into my past infographics because that was coined by Linnaeus) . Now that we've joined the two words, pupus goes back to the Proto-Indo-European root pehw, meaning "little". How FASCINATING!
11/16/2018 09:36:30 pm
Wow, I can't believe this doesn't have any comments!;what's wrong with people?
David and Leon Fitzjarrald
11/30/2018 06:44:50 am
Leon and I have discovered that, in the Latin languages, the word for 'compass' (as in finding directions) derives from the Latin for a "small box". French: boussoule; Portuguese: bússola; Spanish: brújula (no link to witch).
11/30/2018 04:19:56 pm
Thank you! I'll have to do a post on that!
7/12/2019 01:25:59 am
This research does not fill my inquiry especially because I found that in the classical Arabic language, the word "pupil" (تلميذ [tilmeeth]) has an alternate meaning, "student". Which is the same for the English word "pupil". Therefore the origin of this dual meaning must go back further than French.
9/28/2019 12:37:29 pm
according to Roberto Calasso's The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony, the double meaning of pupil and eye is also in ancient greek. Then consider the tale of Narcissus, and how the pool-mirror is like the pupil of the underworld
8/28/2021 11:04:12 pm
As a biologist, I feel compelled to correct your definition of "pupa." It does not mean "maggot." Certain types of insects, including butterflies, moths, fruit flies, house flies, bees, wasps, and ants, have four distinct life stages: (1) egg, (2) larva, (3) pupa, and (4) imago (adult). The "pupa" is the transitional stage between the immature larval form and the mature imago/adult form.
Your comment will be posted after it is approved.
Leave a Reply.
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.