Word Family - Guest

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This word for "guest"/"host" is restricted to the Late Northwest Indo-European languages, appearing—as far as I know—only in Balto-Slavic, Germanic, and Italic, plus a single personal name in Lepontic (Celtic). It seems to be cognate to a word for "to eat" which is only attested in Indo-Iranian.

The word for guest and host appear to have been interchangeable in antiquity. Possibly because hospitality was viewed as reciprocal, and/or the original word may have simply meant "stranger that you are eating with", without specifying the guest or host roles.


guest and host, hospitality and hostility

Full Text

  • Proto-Indo-European *gʰes- to eat
    • Proto-Indo-European *gʰese-ti primary verb
      • Indo-Iranian
        • Indo-Aryan
          • Sanskrit 𑀖𑀲𑀢𑀺 ghásati to eat
        • Iranian
          • Avestan gah to eat, to gorge
    • Northwest Indo-European *gʰóst-is guest, stranger lit. "eater"?
      • Balto-Slavic
        • Slavic *gȏstь guest
          • East Slavic
            • Russian гость gostʹ guest, visitor
          • South Slavic
            • Old Church Slavonic ⰳⱁⱄⱅⱐ gostĭ guest
            • Serbo-Croatian го̑ст gȏst guest
          • West Slavic
            • Polish gość guest, guy, fellow
          • Slavic *Gostislavъ Guest-Glory (personal name)
            • West Slavic
              • Polish Goscław
              • Old Swedish Gøtstaf [1]
                • Swedish Gustav
      • Celtic *gostiyos
        • Lepontic *kośio
          • Lepontic 𐌖𐌅𐌀𐌌𐌏𐌊𐌏𐌆𐌉𐌔 uvamokozis Has-Splendid-Guests (personal name)
      • Germanic *gastiz stranger, guest
        • East Germanic
          • Gothic 𐌲𐌰𐍃𐍄𐍃 gasts guest
        • North Germanic *gastiz guest
          • Old Norse gestr guest
            • Danish gæst visitor, guest
            • Icelandic gestur guest, visitor
            • English guest
          • North Germanic ᚺᛚᛖᚹᚨᚷᚨᛊᛏᛁᛉ Hlewagastiz Famous-Guest (personal name)
          • North Germanic ᚾᚨᚢᛞᛁᚷᚨᛊᛏᛁᛉ Naudigastiz Need-Guest (personal name)
          • North Germanic ᛊᚨᛚᛁᚷᚨᛊᛏᛁᛉ Saligastiz either Hall-Guest or Joy-Guest (personal name)
        • West Germanic
          • Old English ġiest stranger, guest
          • Frankish
            • Dutch gast guest, apprentice, worker, knave, dude
          • Old High German gast guest
            • German Gast guest
            • Yiddish גאַסט gast guest
      • Italic *hostis stranger, guest
        • Latin hostis stranger, foreign enemy
          • Eastern Romance
            • Romanian oaste army, host archaic
          • Western Romance
            • Old French oste
              • French ost army, host archaic
              • English host
            • Italian oste army, host
            • Spanish hueste army, troops, following
          • Latin hostilis hostile, to do with enemies
            • French hostile hostile
              • English hostile
            • Italian ostile hostile
            • Spanish hostil hostile
      • Northwest Indo-European *gʰóstipot-is guest-master, host
        • Balto-Slavic
          • Slavic *gospodь lord, liege
            • East Slavic господь gospodĭ lord, master
              • Russian Госпо́дь Gospódʹ Lord, God
              • Russian осподи́н gospodín gentleman, Mr., master
            • South Slavic
              • Old Church Slavonic господь gospodĭ lord, master
              • Serbo-Croatian Го̏спод Gȍspod Lord, God, Jesus
        • Italic *hostipotis
          • Latin hospes host, guest, visitor, stranger
            • Eastern Romance
              • Romanian oaspete guest
            • Western Romance
              • Old French oste innkeeper, landlord, host
                • French hôte host, guest, innkeeper
                • English host
                • Italian oste innkeeper
              • Italian ospite host, guest
              • Spanish huésped guest, lodger
            • Latin hospitālis hospitable, generous, pertaining to hospitality or hosts
              • Latin hospitāle guesthouse, guestroom, hospital
                • Western Romance
                  • Old French ostel shelter, place to stay
                    • French hôtel mansion, townhouse, hotel
                      • English hotel
                      • Italian hotel hotel
                      • Spanish hotel hotel
                    • English hostel
                  • Italian ospedale hospital
                  • Old Occitan ostal
                    • Occitan ostal house
                    • Spanish hostal hostel
                • Old French hospital
                  • French hôpital
                  • English hospital
                • Italian ospitale hospitable, friendly, welcome
                • Spanish hospital hospital
              • Latin hospitālitās
                • Western Romance
                  • French hospitalité hospitality
                    • English hospitality
                  • Italian ospitalità hospitality
                  • Spanish hospitalidad hospitality
            • Latin hospitium hospitality, friendship, lodgings, poor-house
              • Eastern Romance
                • Romanian ospăț feast, banquet
              • Western Romance
                • French hospice hospice
                  • English hospice
                • Italian ospizio nursing home, hospice
              • Koine Greek ὁσπίτιον hospítion
                • Byzantine Greek σπίτιν spítin
                  • Greek σπίτι spíti house, home
              • Welsh ysbyty hospital [2]


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Collected English words

guest, host, hostile, hotel, hostel, hospital, hospitality, hospice


  1. ^

    The Swedish name Gustav has traditionally been understood as "Göt-Staf": "Staff (Support) of the Geats". But that is probably a folk-etymology for a name borrowed from Polish Goscław: "Guest-Glory", or the equivalent in another West Slavic language.

  2. ^

    Welsh ysbyty has been modified by folk-etymology to end with : "house", parallel to, e.g., bwyty: "restaurant", lit. "food-house".