THINK MY NAME'S FUNNY, DO YOU?
Sorry, bit of a Harry Potter joke for the title, but it's applicable for this post. Almost all Rowling geeks could tell you that the first name of Draco Malfoy (the archenemisis of Harry in school) comes from the Latin word for "dragon". However, where does Malfoy derive from? First, the prefix -mal. This is recognizable even in English as meaning "bad" (as in maleficent, malicious, or malignant). It is then unsurprising that mal was a word in French which meant "evil". This is from Latin malus, also "evil", from Proto-Indo-European mel, "wrong", through Proto-Italic. Here it gets fascinating: the foy part of Malfoy meant "trust" as foi in Old French. This is an alteration of Latin fides, "faith", which ultimately stems (somehow) from the Proto-Indo-European bheidh, which meant "to trust". Since Malfoy was a bad character who later became good, and his name incorporates both bad and good components, this means that J.K. Rowling not only planned his future from the beginning, but that she was also a whimsical etymologist!
5/2/2017 08:01:31 am
I think you might've spoiled Harry Potter 7 for some people..... speaking of which etymology of saga?
Well, the truth had to be put out there... but I'm mixing genres. I won't etymologize "saga", because it's really boring (only traces through Norse to words like "story", not much of a post to write), but you can read a summary of it here: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/saga#Etymology
Your comment will be posted after it is approved.
Leave a Reply.
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic. This year, I graduated from Harvard University with a degree in Government and Linguistics. There, I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society and wrote a thesis on Serbo-Croatian language policy, magna cum laude. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.