Word Family - Geyser

December theme: Religion 📿


This root has been reconstructed as *ǵʰew-, *ǵʰewH-, *gewH, *gʷewH, *gʷewh₂, which is an unusually high amount of variation, and with different combinations of the definitions I've listed, but:

  1. It's an unusual amount of variation in the phonological reconstruction, but still awfully similar.
  2. Looking at any two of "pour", "cry", "libate", "invoke" they don't alwaays seem like the same word, but when you line them all up, they form a pretty reasonable semantic cloud.
  3. There are minimal pair of descendants derived from different versions of the roots with the same morphology, but only ever in Germanic.

It looks like maybe Pre-Proto-Germanic split the root into *ǵʰewd- (pour) and *gew (cry), giving Germanic minimal pairs like *geutaną vs. *kewaną, but I couldn't find any evidence outside of Germanic that required them to be different roots.

The Latin descendants mostly start with f (fundo, futilis, etc.), which is expected from *gʷʰ, but not *ǵʰ or *gʷ. de Vaan suggests that the sequence *ǵʰ+u assimilated to *gʷʰ. Or rather that Italic *χu assimilated to *fu in Pre-Latin, since Faliscan and Umbrian have possible (but not certain) cognate showing the expected h from *ǵʰ.


gush, geyser, chemistry, fondue, god, futile

Full Text

  • Proto-Indo-European *ǵʰew- to pour, to libate, to invoke, to cry, to cry out, to call out
    • Proto-Indo-European *ǵʰéweti pours, invokes, cries, calls intransitive present
      • Balto-Slavic
        • Lithuanian žavė́ti to fascinate, to charm
        • Slavic *zъvati to call
          • East Slavic
            • Russian звать zvatʹ to call, to invite
          • South Slavic
            • Serbo-Croatian зва̏ти zvȁti to call, to summon, to invite
          • West Slavic
            • Polish zwać to call, to be called
      • Germanic *kewaną to cry
        • North Germanic
          • Old Norse kjá
      • Germanic *geutaną to pour [1]
        • East Germanic
          • Gothic 𐌲𐌹𐌿𐍄𐌰𐌽 giutan pour
        • North Germanic
          • Old Norse gjóta
            • Icelandic gjóta to give birth to, to spawn
        • West Germanic
          • Old English ġēotan to pour, to gush, to cry, to cast metal
          • Old High German giozan
            • German gießen to pour, to water, to cast metal
            • Yiddish גיסן gisn to pour, to mint coins
      • Indo-Iranian *ĵʰávate
        • Indo-Aryan
          • Sanskrit हवते hávate to invoke, to call
        • Iranian
          • Avestan zavaiti invokes, curses
          • Northern Iranian
            • Scythian
              • Ossetian а́ргъауын árǧawyn officiate, perform religious services
          • Iranian *gáwbatī to say, to state
            • Northern Iranian
              • Sogdian ɣwβ- gob- to praise, to glorify
            • Western Iranian
              • Kurdish gotin to say
              • Old Persian
                • Persian گفتن goftan to say, to tell, to speak
                • Old Armenian գովեմ govem to praise, to boast
                  • Armenian գովել govel to praise
      • Italic *gʷow-
        • Latin bovō loudly call upon, cry aloud
      • Tocharian
        • Kushean ku- pour, offer libation
    • Proto-Indo-European *ǵʰéwyeti pours out transitive present
      • Hellenic kʰéyyō
        • Ancient Greek χέω khéō I pour, I smelt, I melt, I scatter
      • Tocharian
        • Kushean kutk- give substance to, cast in a mold
    • Proto-Indo-European *ǵʰéwéyeti causative?
      • Germanic *kawjaną
        • West Germanic
          • Old English ċīeġan to call, to name, to call upon, to invoke, to summon, to call together, to call out
      • Germanic *gausijaną
        • North Germanic
          • Old Norse geysa
            • English gush
            • Icelandic geysa to gush
              • Icelandic geysir gusher
                • Icelandic Geysir a geyser in southwestern Iceland, the first geyser described in a printed source
                  • English geyser
                    • French geyser geyser
                    • Italian geyser geyser
                    • Spanish géiser geyser
                  • German Geysir geyser
                    • Russian ге́йзер géjzer geyser
    • Proto-Indo-European *ǵʰueh₂ call, cry (noun)
      • Albanian zulë shout, glory
      • Tocharian
        • Kushean kwā- call, invite
    • Proto-Indo-European *ǵʰéwmos the act of pouring, the result of pouring, the act of crying
      • Germanic *kūmaz
        • West Germanic
          • Old High German kūm miserable
      • Hellenic
        • Ancient Greek χυμός khumós juice, sap, flavor
          • Greek χυμός chymos juice
          • Ancient Greek χύμα khúma fluid
            • Ancient Greek χυμεία khumeía the process of alloying metals, the skill of working with liquid metals [2]
              • Greek χημεία chimeía chemistry
                • Russian хи́мия xímija chemistry
              • Arabic كِيمِيَاء kīmiyāʾ chemistry
                • Hebrew כִימְיָה khímya chemistry
                • Turkish kimya chemistry
                • Medieval Latin chēmia chemistry
                  • French chimie chemistry
                    • German Chemie chemistry
                    • French chimique having to do with chemistry, chemical
                      • Italian chimica chemistry
                      • Spanish químico chemical, chemist
                      • English chemical
                    • French chimiste chemist
                      • English chemist
                        • English chemistry
                • Medieval Latin alchimia chemistry, alchemy doublet borrowing incorporating the Arabic definite article al-
                  • French alchimie alchemy
                    • English alchemy
      • Indo-Iranian *ĵʰáwmas
        • Indo-Aryan
          • Sanskrit होम hóma oblatian, offering, Vedic ritual
      • Italic *fundō
        • Latin
          • Western Romance
            • French fondre
              • English found
              • French fonderie
                • English foundry
              • French fondue
                • English fondue
            • Italian fondere
            • Spanish hundir
          • Spanish fundir
          • Latin fūsiō a pouring, a melting, a casting
            • Western Romance
              • French foison abundance, spill over
              • Italian fuso melted, cast, worn out
            • French fusion mixture, fusion re-borrowing
              • English fusion
                • English fuse
          • Latin fundibulum funnel lit. "pouring instrument"
            • Western Romance
              • Old French
                • English funnel
              • Spanish fundibulo trebuchet
          • Latin cōnfundō pour together, mix up con- + fundō
            • Eastern Romance
              • Romanian cufunda to immerse, to sink into, to settle down
            • Western Romance
              • French confondre to confuse, to confound, to mix, to merge /confusion
                • English confound
              • Italian confondere to mix up, to confuse, to embarass
              • Spanish confundir to confuse, to counfound, to baffle
          • Latin diffundō I pour apart dis- + fundō
            • Western Romance
              • French diffuser to diffuse, to broadcast
                • English diffuse
          • Latin effundō I pour out, I shed, I give up, I waste ex- + fundō
            • Western Romance
              • French
                • English effuse
          • Latin infundō I pour into in- + fundō
            • Western Romance
              • French
                • English infuse
          • Latin profundō I pour forth, I squander pro- + fundō
            • Western Romance
              • French
                • English profuse
          • Latin refundō pour back
            • Western Romance
              • French
                • English refund
              • French refuser to refuse [3]
                • English refuse
          • Latin profundō I pour forth, I squander pro- + fundō
            • Western Romance
              • French
                • English profuse
          • Latin sufundō I pour into, I suffuse sub- + fundō
            • Western Romance
              • French
                • English suffuse
          • Latin trānsfundō I pour between, I decant, I transfuse trans- + fundō
            • Western Romance
              • French
                • English transfuse
    • Proto-Indo-European *ǵʰutus the act of crying out, the act of calling
      • Celtic *gutus voice
        • Old Irish guth voice
          • Irish guth voice, vote
      • Tocharian kuk-
    • Proto-Indo-European *ǵʰiǵʰéwti reduplicated present
      • Indo-Iranian
        • Indo-Aryan
          • Sanskrit जुहोति juhóti to sprinkle on, to worship with, to offer a sacrifice to
    • Proto-Indo-European *ǵʰeǵʰówe reduplicated stative?
      • Hellenic
        • Ancient Greek κέχῠκᾰ kékhuka I poured, I smelted, I melted, I scattered
      • Indo-Iranian
        • Indo-Aryan
          • Sanskrit जुहाव juhāva relinquished
    • Proto-Indo-European *ǵʰutós poured, invoked adjective
      • Germanic *gudą god, deity
        • East Germanic
          • Gothic 𐌲𐌿𐌸 guþ god
        • North Germanic
          • Old Norse goð god, deity
            • Icelandic goð god, idol, pagan god
          • Old Norse goði priest
        • West Germanic
          • Old English god god
            • English god
          • Old High German got god
            • German Gott god
      • Hellenic *kʰutós
        • Ancient Greek χυτός khutós poured
      • Indo-Iranian *ĵʰutás
        • Indo-Aryan
          • Sanskrit हुत hutá offered in fire, poured out, oblation, offering
    • Proto-Indo-European *ǵʰéwtis abstract action noun
      • Italic
        • Latin fūtis pitcher
    • Proto-Indo-European *ǵʰéwteh₂lós
      • Italic
        • Latin fūtilis easily poured out, leaky, untrustworthy, worthless, futile
          • Western Romance
            • French futile futile
              • English futile
            • Italian futile futile
            • Spanish fútil insignificant
    • Proto-Indo-European *ǵʰéwmn̥ result noun
      • Hellenic *kʰéumə
        • Ancient Greek χεῦμᾰ kheûma that which is poured
      • Phrygian ζευμάν dzeuman spring (source of water)
    • Proto-Indo-European *ǵʰéwtōr pourer
      • Indo-Iranian *ĵʰáwtā
        • Indo-Aryan
          • Sanskrit होतृ hótṛ
        • Iranian
          • East Iranian
            • Avestan zaotar priest, invoker
    • Proto-Indo-European *ǵʰéwtlom
      • Hellenic
        • Ancient Greek χύτλον khútlon something that can be poured, fluid
      • Indo-Iranian *ĵʰawtrám
        • Indo-Aryan
          • Sanskrit होत्र hotrá a sacrifice, the act or office of sacrificing
        • Iranian
          • East Iranian
            • Avestan zaoθrā libation, offering [4]
              • Persian زور‏ zowr libation
              • Georgian ზორვა zorva sacrifice
              • Armenian զոհ zoh sacrifice, victim
              • Aramaic
          • Western Iranian
            • Old Persian
              • Persian ژون‏ žun idol [4]
    • Proto-Indo-European *ǵʰuHos
      • Hellenic
        • Ancient Greek γόος góos wailing, weeping, lament


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Collected English words

gush, geyser, chemical, chemist, chemistry, alchemy, found, foundry, fondue, fusion, fuse, funnel, confound, diffuse, effuse, infuse, profuse, refund, refuse, profuse, suffuse, transfuse, god, futile


  1. ^

    gut and/or goth might also be from Germanic *geutaną. Even more tentatively, gutter and gout (both from Latin gutta`: "droplet") could conceivably be related via a borrowing from Germanic into Latin. But none of these are clear relatives.

  2. ^

    There are possible origins on Greek χυμεία khumeía.

    School 1: The Arabic could come for the Greek "to work with liquid metals" from "to pour, to melt" as show here

    School 2: it could come from a Coptic word meaning "the Egyptian science" from Coptic (kēme): "Egypt" from Egyptian kmt: "Egypt". I've told this story a lot over the years, before encountering the Greek word "to pour", which makes it seem like a bit of a stretch/folk etymology. On the other hand, Diocletian is supposed to have issued a decree against "the ancient writings of the Egyptians, which treat of the khēmia transmutation of gold and silver". (But I have never been able to track down a primary source on that Diocletian, just a bunch of etymologies of chemistry/alchemy referencing each other.)

    Most likely it's probably both, based on a Koine era conflation of the words.

    Also note, the words for chemistry and alchemy exist side by side and continue to influence each other's forms for an extensive time period in quite a few languages. I mostly simplified that out of the derivations here.

  3. ^

    Sometimes refuse is traced to a Vulgar Latin blending of refutō and recusō, but that seems unnecessarily complicated compared it to just being literally "to pour back".

  4. ^

    Avestan zaoθrā: "libation, offering" and Persian ژون žun: "idol" are close enough to Zarathustra (the Avestan prophet) and Zun (the 8th C Afghani Sun God), respectively, to raise suspicion, but neither seems related.