Welcome back to yet another Fun Etymology Tuesday (or as I’ve simple started calling them: FunEtys)!
Today, we go into the depths of darkness… today’s word is night!
From Old English niht, pronounced [nixt] ([x] is the sound found in Scottish “loch”), West Saxon neaht, Anglian næht, neht. This word means simply “night” or “darkness” from Proto-Germanic *nahts, from PIE *nekwt-, also meaning “night”. The PIE root is also source of Greek nuks “a night”, Latin nox, Old Irish nochd, Sanskrit naktam “at night, Lithuanian naktis “night,” Old Church Slavonic nosti, Russian noch’, Welsh henoid “tonight”).
In English, the modern vowel indicates that the word came from the oblique cases of Old English and the -gh- spelling is actually due to a Middle English scribal habit: before -t, hard H, that is [x] here, often came to be represented by scribes as gh (though the no-longer-used letter yogh (ȝ) could also be used)!
That’s all for our little “time-related” theme! Next week, join us for something that, if you’re unlucky, comes to you at night…..
See you then!