Word Family - Heron


I've been thinking about herons and egrets a lot recently. For the past year or so, our morning walk goes by a half mile of drainage ditch with an amazing variety of water birds. We regularly see 4 different species of heron: great blue heron, great egret, snowy egret, and black-capped night heron; and every once in a while also a green heron.

In English "herons" and "egrets" are basically the same birds, an "egret" is basically just any heron that is primarily white colored, e.g. the great egret (Ardea alba) is more closely related to the great blue heron (Ardea herodias) than it is to the snowy egret (Egretta thula).

And then I realized that "heron" and "egret" are basically the same word, both from Germanic *haigrô: "heron": one lost the 'g', the other lost the 'h' (and added a diminutive suffix).


screech, shriek, egret, heron

Full Text

  • Proto-Indo-European *(s)ḱrey- to screech, to caw probably imitative
    • Proto-Indo-European *(s)ḱreyti
      • Germanic *skrīanã to caw, to screech, to scream, to cry out
        • North Germanic
          • Old Norse skræma
            • Danish skræmme to frighten
            • English scream
        • West Germanic
          • Old English sċrēon to cry out
          • Frankish *scrīan
            • Dutch schriën to scream, to weep archaic
            • Old French escrier
              • French écrier to exclaim, to yell
          • Old High German scrīan
            • German schreien to shout, to yell, to cry, to scream, to howl
            • Yiddish שרײַען shrayen to shout
      • Hellenic
        • Ancient Greek κρίζω I creak, I screech
    • Proto-Indo-European *(s)ḱreyǵ- extension
      • Proto-Indo-European *(s)ḱriǵh₁yéti is screeching stative
        • Germanic *skrīkijanã to cry, to scream, to shriek
          • North Germanic
            • Old Norse skríkja
              • Danish skrige to scream
              • Icelandic skríkja to shriek, to twitter
              • English screech
              • English skrike
          • West Germanic
            • Old English sċrīċ
              • English shriek
              • English shrike
      • Proto-Indo-European *(s)ḱroyǵéh₂
        • Celtic *korxsā
          • Brythonic *krexur
            • Welsh crëyr heron
          • Celtiberian *cárcia
            • Portuguese garça heron
              • Thai กระสา grà-sǎa heron
            • Spanish garza heron
          • Old Irish
            • Irish corr heron, crane, stork
          • Celtic *korkiyos
            • Brythonic *körxɨð
              • Welsh crychydd heron
        • Germanic *hraigrô heron
          • West Germanic *hraigrō
            • Old English hrāgra heron
            • Frankish *reigaro
              • Dutch reiger heron
                • Afrikaans reier heron
            • Old High German reigaro heron
              • German Reiher heron
          • Germanic *haigrô variant with dissimulation
            • North Germanic
              • Old Norse hegri heron
                • Danish hejre heron
                • Icelandic hegri heron
              • Finnic
                • Estonian haigur heron
                • Finnish haikara heron, stork
            • West Germanic *haigrō
              • Frankish *haigrō
                • Medieval Latin haigrō heron
                  • Old Occitan aigron heron
                    • Old Occitan aigreta heron dimuntive
                      • Old French aigrette heron
                        • French aigrette heron, crest, feather
                          • English aigrette
                        • English egret
                  • Medieval Latin hairō heron variant
                    • Old French heiron heron
                      • French héron heron
                      • English heron
                      • Italian airone heron
                    • Spanish airón heron
              • Old High German heigaro heron
                • Italian aghirone heron


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Collected English words

scream, screech, skrike, shriek, shrike, aigrette, egret, heron