I've seen a lot of people misspell the word harbinger as harbringer, or ask me if the word is somehow related to bring. At a glance, this seems like it could make sense: after all, a harbinger brings news or change. However, the word used to refer to a "person sent ahead to arrange lodgings", usually for a travelling group of soldiers or nobility, and before that it meant "innkeeper" in general. Back then, it was primarily spelled herberger; the -n- was added because of association with words like messenger. Through Old French, herberger comes from the Frankish noun heriberga, meaning "lodging" or "inn", and that finally traces to the Proto-Germanic roots harjaz ("army"; from Proto-Indo-European koryos, "war") and bergo ("protection"; from Proto-Indo-European bhergh, "to hide"). These same roots later developed into the word harbor, which is pretty cool.
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.