Word Family - Mort

October theme: Mes de Muertos 💀

Introduction

I'm not seriously proposing that words for "death" all across the Northern Hemisphere are related, but I'm not entirely not proposing that, or at least that there may be an ancient wander-word (possibly driven by taboo replacement?) that made its way across much Eurasia.

In any case, some of the relations are plausible enough to be fun to explore, and for it to be a good excuse to explore a bunch of other language families.

Teaser

ambrosia, nightmare, murder

Full Text

  • ? [1]
    • Proto-Indo-European *mer- to die
      • Proto-Indo-European *mér-ti primary verb
        • Anatolian
          • Hittite 𒈨𒅕𒍣 me-er-zi diminish?, disappear?
        • Balto-Slavic
          • Lithuanian mir̃ti to die
          • Slavic *merti to die
            • East Slavic мерети mereti
              • Russian мере́ть merétʹ to die, to perish (in large numbers)
            • South Slavic
              • Bulgarian мра mra to die
              • Old Church Slavonic мрѣти mrěti to die
              • Serbo-Croatian мрије̑ти mrijȇti to die
            • West Slavic
              • Polish mrzeć to die
        • Indo-Iranian
          • Indo-Aryan
            • Sanskrit मरति marati to die
              • Elu
                • Sinhala මැරෙනවා mærenavā
              • Magadhi
                • Bengali মরা môra to die
              • Sauraseni
                • Madhya
                  • Hindi मरना marnā to die, to be dead
                • Pahari
                  • Nepali मर्नु marnu to die
                  • Punjabi ਮਰਣਾ marṇā to die
          • Iranian
            • Avestan mar-
            • Pashto مړینه mrrīta to die
            • Western Iranian
              • Persian مردن‏ mordan to die
              • Northwestern Iranian
                • Kurdish mirin death
      • Proto-Indo-European *mr̥yé-ti ye- intransitive
        • Indo-Iranian *mr̥iyáte
          • Indo-Aryan *mr̥iyáte
            • Sanskrit म्रियते mriyate to die, decease
          • Iranian *mr̥iyáte
            • Avestan miriiete dies
            • Western Iranian
              • Old Persian 𐎠𐎶𐎼𐎡𐎹𐎫𐎠 amriyta died? [2]
        • Italic *morjor
          • Latin morior I die, I wither
            • Sardinian morrere to die
            • Eastern Romance
              • Romanian a muri to die
            • Western Romance
              • French mourir to die, to be dying
              • Italian morire death, to die
              • Spanish morir to die
            • Latin moribundus dying, moribund, fatal
              • French moribond moribund
                • English moribund
              • Italian moribondo dying, moribund, dying person
              • Spanish moribundo moribund, near death
      • Proto-Indo-European *moréye-ti to kill causative
        • Indo-Iranian
          • Indo-Aryan
            • Sanskrit मारयति māráyati
              • Madhya
                • Hindi मारना mārnā to beat, to strike, to kill, to murder
        • Balto-Slavic
          • Slavic *moriti to murder
            • East Slavic
              • Russian мори́ть morítʹ to destroy, to poison, to exhaust
            • South Slavic
              • Serbo-Croatian мо̀рити moriti to kill, to assassinate
            • West Slavic
              • Polish morzyć to kill cruelly (archaic)
      • Proto-Indo-European *mérs-n̥t s perfective
        • Old Armenian մեռանիմ meṙanim to die
          • Armenian մեռնել meṙnel to die
      • Proto-Indo-European *mr̥tó-s dead, mortal primary adjective
        • Old Armenian մարդ mard mortal, human, the human race
          • Armenian մարդ mard human being, person, human race, someone
        • Germanic *murþą death, murder
          • West Germanic
            • Old English morþ death, crime, murder
              • Scots murth murder, slaughter
            • Frankish
            • Old High German
          • Old Norse morð
            • Old Norse myrða to murder
        • Indo-Iranian *mr̥tás dead, mortal, human
          • Indo-Aryan
            • Sanskrit मृत mṛtá dead, deathly, death, a grave
              • Elu
                • Sinhala මළ maḷa
              • Magadhi
                • Bengali মৃত mritô dead
              • Sauraseni
                • Madhya
                  • Hindi मृत mṛtá dead
              • Sanskrit मर्त mártas mortal, human, the mortal world, the Earth
          • Iranian
            • Avestan mərəta
            • Western Iranian
              • Old Persian
                • Persian مرد‏ mard mortal, human, man
                  • Turkish mert manly, brave
          • Uralic
            • Finnic *mardas dead, dying
              • Finnish marras dead or dying person, soul of a dead person, omen of death
              • Estonian marras fragile, brittle
              • Finnic *mardas-keci dead-skin
                • Finnish marraskesi stratum corneum, the outermost layer of skin that flakes
            • Mordvinic
              • Erzya мирде mirde man, husband
            • Komi-Permyak
              • Komi морт mort person
        • Proto-Indo-European *n̥mr̥tós undying, immortal
          • Hellenic *amrtos
            • Ancient Greek ᾰ̓́μβροτος ámbrotos immortal, divine, food of the gods
              • Latin ambrosia food of the gods, ambrosia
                • French ambroisie ambrosia
                • English ambrosia
          • Indo-Iranian
            • Indo-Aryan
              • Sanskrit अमृत amṛta immortal, immortality, food or drink of the gods
                • Sauraseni
                  • Madhya
                    • Hindi अमृत amrit drink of the gods, nectar, elixir of immortality
                  • Pahari
                    • Punjabi ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ammrit baptismal holy water, nectar
                • Telugu అమృతము amr̥tamu nectar, antidote to poison
            • Iranian
              • Avestan amərətāt Divinity of long life and eternal afterlife
        • Proto-Indo-European *mr̥wó-s dead, mortal adjective variant
          • Celtic *marwos
            • Brythonic *marw dead
              • Welsh marw dead
            • Old Irish marb dead, pertaining to the dead, inanimate, stagnant,dead body
              • Irish marbh dead, dead person
            • Celtic *marwāti re-derived verb
              • Old Irish marbaid to kill, to slay, to annul
        • Proto-Indo-European *mr̥twó-s dead, mortal adjective variant
          • Balto-Slavic
            • Slavic *mьrtvъ
              • East Slavic
                • Russian мёртвый mjórtvyj dead, lifeless, a dead person
              • South Slavic
                • Serbo-Croatian мр̀тав mr̀tav
              • West Slavic
                • Polish martwy dead, inanimate
                  • Polish martwa natura still life (art)
          • Italic *mortwos
            • Latin mortuus dead, a dead body [3]
              • Sardinian mortu dead
              • Eastern Romance
                • Romanian mort dead, dead body
              • Western Romance ²
                • French mort dead, dead person [3]
                • Italian morto dead, dead person, dead body [3]
                • Spanish muerto dead, dead person [3]
                  • Spanish Día de Muertos Day of the Dead [4]
      • Proto-Indo-European *mértis death abstract noun
        • Proto-Albanian *merusa
          • Albanian mërshë corpse, carrion
        • Balto-Slavic
          • Lithuanian mirtìs death
          • Slavic *mьrtь death
            • Slavic *sъmьrtь
              • East Slavic
                • Russian смерть smertʹ death
              • South Slavic
                • Serbo-Croatian смр̏т smȑt death
              • West Slavic
                • Polish śmierć death
        • Indo-Iranian
          • Indo-Aryan *mr̥tyúṣ
            • Sanskrit मृत्यु mṛtyú death, dying, divinity of death
              • Sauraseni
                • Pali maccu death
              • Hindi मृत्यु mŕtyu death, divinity of death
              • Telugu మృత్యువు mr̥tyuvu death
              • Thai มฤตยู má-rʉ́t-dtà-yuu deadly, fatal, divinity of death, Uranus (planet)
          • Iranian *mr̥θyúš
            • Avestan mərəiti
            • Western Iranian
              • Northwestern Iranian
                • Parthian *marh(u)
                  • Old Armenian մահ mah death
                    • Armenian մահ mah death
              • Old Persian məršiyu
        • Italic *mortis
          • Latin mors death acc.: mortem [3]
            • Sardinian molte death
            • Eastern Romance
              • Romanian moarte death
            • Western Romance
              • French mort death [3]
              • Italian morte death [3]
              • Spanish muerte death [3]
            • Latin mortālis mortal
              • Western Romance
                • French mortel
                  • English mortal
                • Italian mortale mortal
                • Spanish mortal deadly, mortal
              • Latin immortālis immortal, undying
                • French immortel
                • Italian immortale
                • Spanish inmortal
                • English immortal
      • Proto-Indo-European *mórō evil spirit associated with death, sleep, and dreams
        • Albanian merë fear, awe
        • Albanian tmerr horror, terror
        • Balto-Slavic [5]
          • Slavic *mara
            • Czech mura nightmare, moth
            • Polish mara dream, nightmare, creature that drinks the blood of sleeping people
            • Polish zmora bane, nightmare [5]
          • Balto-Slavic *máras [5]
            • Lithuanian mãras
            • Slavic *morъ
              • East Slavic
                • Russian мор mor pestilence, plague
              • South Slavic
                • Serbo-Croatian мо̑р mȏr
              • West Slavic
                • Polish mór plague
          • Balto-Slavic *Máre? Divinity of Winter, Death and Rebirth, and Dreams [5]
            • Lithuanian Morė
            • Slavic
              • Russian Марена
              • Serbo-Croatian Morana
              • Polish Marzanna
        • Celtic *moro
          • Celtic *Moro-rīganīs
            • Old Irish Morrígan Divinity of Fate and Doom lit. "Phantom Queen" [6]
              • English Morrigan
        • Germanic *marǭ evil spirit, incubus, mara
          • Old Norse mara
            • Icelandic mara
            • English mara
              • Finnish mara nightmare, mara
          • West Germanic
            • Old English mare mara, evil spirit, nightmare
            • Old High German mara
              • German Mahr mara, succubus
            • Frankish *mara
              • Dutch mare mara, nightmare, witch
              • Old French mare
                • Old French cauquemare nightmare lit. "pressing mara"
                  • French cauchemar nightmare
            • West Germanic *nahts-marǭ lit. "night mara""
              • Old English *nihtemare
                • English nightmare
                • Scots nichtmare
              • Old High German
                • German Nachtmahr
                • Frankish nahtmara
                  • Dutch nachtmerrie nightmare
        • Indo-Iranian
          • Indo-Aryan
            • Sanskrit मार māra death pestilence, killing, Divinity of Death (Hinduism), Divinity of Anti-Enlightenment (Buddhism)
      • Proto-Indo-European *mŕ̥trom instrumental
        • Germanic *murþrą murder, killing
          • East Germanic
            • Gothic 𐌼𐌰𐌿𐍂𐌸𐍂 maurþr murder
          • West Germanic
            • Old English morþor murder
              • English murder
            • Frankish *murþra murder
              • Medieval Latin murdrum
                • English murdrum
              • Old French murdre
          • Germanic *murþrijaną to murder
            • East Germanic
              • Gothic 𐌼𐌰𐌿𐍂𐌸𐍂𐌾𐌰𐌽 maurþrjan to murder, to kill
            • West Germanic
              • Old English myrþran to murder
                • English murder
              • Old High German murdirēn
                • German mördern
              • Frankish *murthrijan
                • French meurtrir to injure, to hurt, to bruise
    • Proto-Afro-Asiatic *mUt- [1]
      • Berber *mVt-
        • Northern Berber
          • Kabyle emmet
          • Atlas Berber
            • Tamazigh emmet
      • Chadic *mawut-
        • East Chadic
          • Dangaléat muutu
        • West Chadic
          • Hausa mutu
          • Tangale mud-
      • Cushitic *-umaaw-
      • Egyptian mwt to die, death
        • Demotic Egyptian mwt
          • Coptic ⲙⲟⲩ mou to die
      • Semitic *mūt- to die
        • Central Semitic
          • Arabic مَاتَ māta to die
          • Northwest Semitic
            • Aramaic מית mīt to die
            • Canaanite
              • Hebrew מֵת met dead, to die
                • Yiddish מת meys dead person
        • East Semitic
          • Akkadian mâtu
        • South Semitic
          • Ethiopic
            • Amharic መሞት mämot to die
            • Ge'ez ሞተ motä
        • Semitic *mawVt death
          • Central Semitic
            • Arabic مَوْت mawt death
            • Northwest Semitic
              • Aramaic mawt'e death, cause of death, execution, plague
              • Canaanite
                • Hebrew מוות mávet death
                  • Yiddish מוות moves death
          • South Semitic
            • Ethiopic
              • Amharic ሞት mot death
        • Semitic *mut- mortal, person, man
          • Central Semitic
            • Northwest Semitic
              • Amorite
                • Ugaritic 𐎎𐎚 mt mortal, person, man
          • East Semitic
            • Akkadian 𒁮 mutu husband, spouse
    • Sino-Austronesian **mtj [1]
      • Austronesian *mataj
        • West Formosan
          • Amis patay death, to die
        • Malayo-Polynesian
          • Borito
            • Malagasy maty
          • Javanese mati dead
          • Malay mati to die, dead
          • Philippine
            • Tagalog matay to die
          • Oceanic
            • Fijian mate dead, death
            • Polynesian *mate death
              • Tongan mate death, dead
              • Nuclear Polynesian
                • Marquesic
                  • Hawaiʻian make death, peril, to die, to faint
                    • Hawaiʻian Creole English maki dead, broken
                • Rapa Nui mate dead, to die
                • Tahitic
                  • Māori mate dead, death, disease
                  • Tahitian mate dead, to die
      • Hmong-Mien
        • Hmong tuag tṳə to die
      • Kra-Dai
        • Tai *p.tāj
          • Northern Tai
            • Zhuang dai to die
          • Southwestern Tai
            • Lao ຕາຍ tāi to die
            • Thai ตาย dtaai to die
              • Khmer តាយ taay to die
      • Sino-Tibetan *səj
        • Old Chinese *sijʔ
          • Middle Chinese sˠiɪˣ to die, death, dead, deadly
            • Cantonese sei²
            • Mandarin
            • Shanghainese xi²
            • Japanese shi death
            • Vietnamese tử to die
            • Middle Chinese 死亡 death, to die (formal)
              • Cantonese 死亡 sei² mong⁴ death, to die (formal)
              • Mandarin 死亡 sǐwáng death, to die (formal)
              • Shanghainese 死亡 sr vaan death, to die (formal)
              • Japanese shibō to die
              • Korean 사망 samang death
              • Vietnamese tử vong to die (formal)
          • Taiwanese
        • Tibeto-Burman
          • Burmese သေ se to die, dead
          • Tibetan འཆི་བ 'chi ba death, to die, to be destroyed
      • Austroasiatic *kc(ə)t [1]
        • Monic
          • Mon ချိုတ် chat to die
        • Vietic *k-ceːt
          • Vietnamese chết to die
      • Northwest Caucasian [1]
        • Abkhaz псра ṗsrā death
      • Dené–Yeniseian
        • Na-Dené [1]
          • Athbaskan *(da̓)-tsa-(nʸ) dies
            • Northern Athbaskan
              • Athna daztsaan dies
            • Pacific Coast Athbaskan
              • Hupa chi'chi't to die (direct, impolite)
            • Southern Athbaskan

Visual

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Collected English words

moribund, ambrosia, mortal, immortal, Morrigan, mara, nightmare, murder, murdrum, murder

Footnotes

  1. ^

    Let's work through the steps of how I came to include so many language families as possible relations:

    1. PIE *mer- is pretty short root for PIE, the standard root has three or four consonants ("triconsonantal roots", anyone?). If it was a borrowing from, say, **mʁt, the "t" would likely have been dropped from the root due to rebracketing because they are so many PIE grammatical endings which start with /t/. Note that the majority of the IE words are from forms with /t/ suffixes: the verb *mér-ti, the adjective *mr̥tó-s, and noun *mérti-s.
    2. There are so many plausible borrowings between Proto-Semitic and Proto-Indo-European that it's almost certain that at least some of them are truly connected. So the Semitic root m-w-t: "death" jump out as a possible relation.
    3. The Semitic root *m-w-t for death is clearly shared with other branches of Afro-Asiatic; basically every branch of Afro-Asiatic has a word for "death" with /m/, /w/, and/or /t/.
    4. At this point, suddenly Malayo-Polynesian words like Tagalog "matay" for "death" are getting caught in the phonological nets I'm casting to fill out related words.
    5. Malayo-Polynesian is part of Austronesian. There are a striking number of similar roots between Proto-Austronesian and Proto-Sino-Tibetan, and often Proto-Tai-Kadai and Proto-Hmong-Mien as well. So having an Austronesian root, I check those other branches. In this case, Proto-Tai *p.taj almost certainly a relative, it's just de-nasalization of a cluster compared to Austronesian *matay.
    6. Sino-Tibetan *sej does not immediately stand out as looking all that much like *matay, but if you start from something like Proto-Tai *p.taj, the /p/ would be lost as part of the standard loss of archaic Sino-Tibetan consonant prefixes, and then all that needs to happen is for the vowel to become fronted, which would then trigger palatalization, and you could get *sej.
    7. At that point, why not include Proto-Austroasiatic *kc(ə)t (sometimes included in Sino-Austronesian), and Northwest Caucasian (Abkhaz) ṗsrā and Na-Dene *tsa (occasionally grouped with Sino-Tibetan as "Sino-(Dené)-Caucasian") as well! Just for fun!
  2. ^

    Old Persian 𐎠𐎶𐎼𐎡𐎹𐎫𐎠 amriyta appears in the Behistun inscription of Darius I, in his story of how he came to be Emperor: "After that, Cambyses died by his own hand." (agarbâyatâ : pasâva : Kabûjiya : uvâmarshiyush : amariyatâ : thâtiy) http://www.avesta.org/op/op.htm#db1

  3. ^

    There is a merge or near-merge between mortuus, "dead" (adj.)/"dead (person)" and mortem, "death" (abstract noun) in Western Romance languages.

  4. ^

    Spanish Día de Muertos is perhaps more literally "Day of Dead People". It is an indefinite plural in the original Spanish, unlike the English translation Day of the Dead (definite mass noun), or the common Anglophone back-translation mistake, Día de los Muertos (definite plural).

  5. ^

    The Baltic and Slavic languages have a lot of words related to the *mórō concept, but it's difficult to nail down the specifics of how they all relate to each other.

  6. ^

    The Morrigan's name in Old Irish is alternately spelled either Morrígan, connected to this root, and interpreted as "Phantom Queen", or else as Mórrígan: "great queen". It seems likely Mórrígan is an eggcorn, as mór ("big, great") is a still a very common word in Irish, but mor has disappeared.