Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Looking up salve

The noun salve (“a healing ointment for application to wounds or sores”): even though the l is silent, the word must come from the Latin salvāre , no? Some idea of saving, healing, making whole, no?

No. The OED, source of the definition above, explains:

Old English sealf (feminine) = Old Saxon salƀa , Middle Low German salve (whence Middle Swedish salva , Swedish salfva , Danish salve ), Middle Dutch salve , salf (Dutch zalf ), Old High German salpa , salba (feminine), salb , salp neuter (Middle High German, German salbe feminine) < Germanic *salbā strong feminine < pre-Germanic *solpā , cognate with Sanskrit sarpís clarified butter, sṛpra greasy, and Albanian ǵalpe butter; perhaps also with Greek ὄλπη , ὄλπις oil-flask.
Yes, it came up in conversation.

comments: 2

The Crow said...

The progenitor of salvation.

(Happy new year, M&E, and thank you for the card. My sincere apologies for taking so long to acknowledge your thoughtfulness.)

Michael Leddy said...

Heck, no one here is keeping track. : ) You’re welcome, Martha.