On the 75th anniversary of D-Day, let’s look at the word Normandía/Normandy. It’s the name of the region in northwest France where the ancestors of the normandos/Normans settled in the second half of the 9th century. And who were those ancestors? Etymologically, Norman is just ‘north man.’ In particular, the north in question was Scandinavia, so the invading North men were Vikings. Once again etymology gives an insight into history.

For a more common Spanish word in which Germanic man appears, you can check out a post from 2014. And we should add that Spanish acquired norte via Old French from Old English.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. shoreacres
    Jun 06, 2019 @ 21:17:44

    While I was working my way back through the various posts linked from this one, I finally got to the one that referenced the ‘do-si-do,’ or ‘back-to-back’ move in square dancing. At the end of that post from 2011, I laughed to read this:

    “French has also given Spanish and English the dossier that is ‘a set of papers pertaining to a person or subject.’ The French name arose from the fact that such a bunch of papers originally had a label on the back of it to identify what it was about.”

    Ah, if only the dossiers in our current news had nice, neat labels to tell us what they truly are about!


    • Steve Schwartzman
      Jun 07, 2019 @ 06:09:35

      In hearing the news over the last three years, many’s the time I’ve thought that I’m among the one percent—not the super wealthy, but the one percent (or less) of people who know how a dossier came to be called a dossier.


      • shoreacres
        Jun 07, 2019 @ 06:15:18

        Not to mention understanding that ‘decimated’ isn’t equivalent to ‘wiped out.’

        I read a wonderful story yesterday about a seven-year-old who heard an advertisement that proclaimed, “It’s not good. It’s the best.” He said to his father, “But if it’s the best, it has to be good.” That’s more in the realm of logic than of etymology, but it still made me smile.


  2. Playamart - Zeebra Designs
    Jun 12, 2019 @ 15:18:49

    Nice and timely post – and always nice to know a bit more history. ‘North Man’ makes me smile – a nice generic description, a bit like how a few people call me ‘middle-earther.’


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If you encounter an unfamiliar technical term in any of these postings, check the Glossary in the bar across the top of the page.

©2011–2018 Steven Schwartzman

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