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Re: colorless green ideas

From:Mark J. Reed <markjreed@...>
Date:Friday, April 9, 2004, 14:43
On Fri, Apr 09, 2004 at 07:06:40AM -0700, Philippe Caquant wrote:
> By the way, I would very much like to know the origin > of the english word: "a nightmare". I find it very > strange and evocative.
Yes, the "-mare" in "nightmare" comes from an OE word meaning "ghost", ultimately from PIE *mer- which seems to have meant "to erode (something)" or generally "to cause harm". From the same root come English "morbid" and Latin "mortis"; the latter is of course the source of French "mort," English "mortal," etc. By contrast, the word "mare" for "female horse" comes via Proto-Germanic *marhjōn from PIE *marko-. And then there's the Latin word "mare" = "sea", which comes from PIE *mori-, which referred to a body of water. For English etymologies that trace back to PIE, a good online resource is the American Heritage Dictionary at the incredibly intuitive URL of -Mark