Re: etymologies

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Tue Apr 01 1997 - 20:49:57 EST

At 6:49 PM -0600 4/1/97, Lynn A Kauppi wrote:
>I am aware that TO STEMMA and hO STEPHANOS overlap somewhat in meaning;
>both can mean "garland" or "wreath." Am I correct in assuming, that
>despite this overlap in meaning, the two words are etymologically
>unrelated? Is there a good reference book to check Greek etymologies? I
>need this info for a dissertation footnote.

No: the two words are unquestionably cognates;STEMMA is an "object-noun"
formed from the verb root STEF- and the element -MA(T) with consonantal
assimilation of the Phi of the verb root to the Mu of the nominal formative
element. STEFANOS (we use F for Phi) is a noun from the same root; the
later STEFANOW is a verb derived from STEFANOS that means exactly the same
thing as STEFW: to wreathe, encircle, put a garland on, even to fill up a
winebowl to the brim so that the surface of the bowl appears as a STEFANOS.
There are etymological dictionaries, but they are in many respects not
trustworthy. In this instance I'd go to the latest
Liddell-Scott-Jones-Glare unabridged lexicon (just published last year) and
check these words for the etymology. I think that's really the most
authoritative source currently available. A somewhat older edition of the
lexicon is on line at the Perseus web site at Tufts.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA 63130
(314) 935-4018 OR

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