The word auger, meaning "a tool for boring holes in wood", is not to be confused with the word augur, meaning "foretell". It's the first word we're concerned with today; in Middle English it was spelled nauger. This is the same type of rebracketing that we saw in yesterday's blog post about the word adder, and the ones we explored a while ago in uncle: the phrase "a nauger" inappropriately got rewritten as "an auger", and the rest is history. Previously, the word was nafogar, which meant "drill nave", a phrase which, for all my research, I still don't know the meaning for (but apparently a nave is a kind of hub or something). This is from Proto-Germanic reconstruction nabogaizaz, which meant the same thing, apparently a portmanteau of the ancient words for "nave" and "drill", nabo and gaizaz, respectively. Nabo in turn is from Proto-Indo-European hneb and gainaz is from PIE ghey, meaning "move".
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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.