The word soap has been around since the eleventh century CE, when it was spelled sape and referred to a type of reddish pigment used to dye the hair of Germanic warriors for use in battle and general intimidation. That developed, through other spellings like saip, saep, and sope, into the definition "salve", and our modern usage was completely standardized by the eighteenth century. Sape comes from Proto-Germanic saipon, which mostly meant "resin" but could refer to any dripping thing, and that in turn derives from the Proto-Indo-European root seyp, meaning "to pour out". While researching this, I also learned that in classical history, people used oil and not soap for bathing, so most of the other branches of the Indo-European family had to borrow saipon when they switched to normal soap.
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.