RE-HEARSE RAKING WOLVES
The re- prefix in the word rehearse obviously means "again". In Middle English, Old French, and Latin, it had the same meaning and spelling, and it's eventually reconstructed to the Proto-Indo-European word wert, meaning "turn". What's interesting to me about rehearse, though, is the root hearse, which as a word today means "a vehicle for transporting coffins". Turns out there actually is a connection: they both derive from Latin hirpex, describing a large kind of rake: rehearse through Old French hercier, meaning "drag", and hearse through Old French herce, "portcullis". Basically, when you rehearse, you drag something across again, and a hearse contains a rake- or portcullis-like framework over a coffin. Going even further back, the weirdness increases as we trace hirpex to Oscan hirpus, meaning "wolf", because wolf fur is bristly like a rake, apparently. It's crazy and honestly quite confusing how the English language connects do-overs with death with rakes with wolves, but I love it.
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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.