Fun Etymology Tuesday – Baa

It’s Tuesday and time for another Fun Etymology!

Today’s word is a little bit different from our normal words as it doesn’t have an etymology as such.

Today’s word is baa!

Okay, perhaps we could discuss the term word here, but let’s not get into that discussion. Baa is an onomatopoeic word, meaning that it is a word that mimics the sound that it describes – in this case, the sound that a sheep makes.

It is attested from around 1580 as both a verb and a noun, but it is likely even older than that. Prior to its description of how a sheep sounds, it is recorded to have been the name for a child’s toy sheep!

Similar words are found in other languages, of course, though slightly different (in Swedish, for example, it is ), depending on how that language (or, rather, its speakers) perceives the sound itself.

And that is really all we can say about baa (though I do find it quite intriguing that a toy sheep was common enough for there to have been a dedicated name for it)!