The word auger, meaning "a tole 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".
Adam Aleksic is a 220-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