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Picture of shufitz
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Dumb question here: Is the saurus in Roget's thesaurus related to the saurus in tyrannosaurus and other dinosaurs?
 
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Picture of Kalleh
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I am sure someone else knows this answer better than I because I merely looked it up. However, to me, it appears that they have different roots. For example, in brontosaurus the bronte comes from the Greek word bronte, meaning thunder, and sauros meaning lizard.

However, thesaurus comes from the Greek word thesauros meaning a treasure, treasury, storehouse, or chest. This comes from the root tithenai, meaning "to put, to place." The latter seems a little less clear to me. It is hard to see how thesauros comes from tithenai. Besides, isn't "treasury" a perfect root for a thesaurus?
 
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Because thesauros doesn't come from tithenai.

This is the bad dictionary practice I complained about in another thread. The word thêsauros comes from the verb meaning 'put'. The word tithênai is the infinitive of the verb meaning 'put'. So they're related, and from the same root. The root is Greek thê-, from Proto-Indo-European *dheH-, and thus also cognate with English do, deed and Latin fac- 'do'.

The problem comes in the misleading scholarly tradition of treating citation forms as basic forms. The citation form is how you give a word in isolation, representing all its inflections: we usually talk about the English verb "to put", standing for all its forms "put", "puts", "putting". Likewise the Greek citation form is normally the first person singular, so "the verb tithêmi" (literally "I put") is used to cover all the inflected forms related to it.

But other forms don't come from the citation form. You don't inflect "tithêmi" by starting with tithêmi and making changes to it. tithêmi is already one of the complex inflected forms. These forms are derived from, if anything, the root thê-. They aren't derived from any word.

It becomes worse when they equate English forms with Greek forms. The English inflected form 'to put' (which is actually a construction, not an inflection, anyway) is literally equivalent to the Greek infinitive tithênai. So if we cite "to put" as the basic English form, the logic goes, we should cite tithênai as the Greek basic form -- and by (false) implication the one from which related words (such as thêsauros) are created.
 
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Picture of shufitz
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OK, then, back to the original question:
  1. Our thesaurus comes from Greek thêsauros (meaning 'treasure', 'treasury', etc.)
  2. The first part of that Greek word is the root thê-, a form of 'put'.
  3. So the obvious question is, what does the second part of that Greek word mean?
 
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Classical philologists do not know the etymology of the Greek word thesauros (whence our treasure). It has been thought that the first part of the word is related to the verb tithemi 'to put, place'. The word may be a loan from another, unknown language. (An aside on the use of citation forms (i.e., lemmata) in etymologies: the reason tithemi is given in an etymology of thesaros is to provide an easy lookup of the word in a Greek-English lexicon.)


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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Picture of Kalleh
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Thanks, aput. I think I should avoid using etymology online. I don't have a hard copy of the OED, only the OED online. I have found that some OED online entries don't have much etymology. It seems to be quite varied with that.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: Kalleh,
 
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zmjezhd has beaten me to this, the part I couldn't answer. It's now the next day and I've consulted my proper books, and yes, we don't know what the -saur- is. It really doesn't look like a Greek ending. Unless a treasury actually was originally a safe place to keep your valuable lizards. (Hey, the Egyptians had little cases to keep their mummified geckos in.)

In fact deriving it from thê- at all now looks like wishful thinking. Much more likely, to my mind, especially for a culture-bound word like "treasury", is that like so much Greek vocabulary the whole word is borrowed from some unknown Anatolian language or Minoan or some such.

I know this is a bit like looking at the Babylonian electric battery and saying, "I know it looks like a battery, but I'm going to go for 'ritual object of unknown purpose' instead."
 
Posts: 502 | Location: LondonReply With QuoteReport This Post
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Of course, knowing the Greeks, the word could have come from sources much farther from home. It could easily come from Persian(was it called Farsi back then?), or another language in that area, as well as Egyptian, or an African language. The Queen of Sheba was renowned for her riches, so that is one possibility.

I suppose it is possible for the word to have come from the north, but that certainly seems like a longshot. Without uncovering some ancient tablet with the use of the word, we will probably never know.
 
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I had a customer last week come in with a booklist (thankfully she thought to bring it) and asked, first, if we has a "This or us". I asked her to repeat it and she said, "oh, it's some book the teacher was talking about that my kid needs for high school, but I don't know what she's talkin' about."

Of course, upon looking at the typed list, I took her straight to the 400's.


*******
"Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.
~Dalai Lama
 
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