Re: skubalon (and etymology)

From: Daniel Ria–o (
Date: Sat Jul 31 1999 - 17:57:31 EDT

>Charlie Trimm asked about the "vulgarity level" of SKUBALON. I've always
>associated this word with a supposed etymology, from EIS KUWN BALLEIN,
>(eisballein by tmesis), ie referring to what a dog drops. I checked LSJ
>but didn't see any reference to this, so I imagine that I read it in a
>commentary on Phil 3:8. The rarity of the word surely makes it strong; it
>is not a word leached of meaning or power through overuse. Spicq discusses
>this hapax legomenon in his Theological Lexicon of the New Testament, and
>ends with the comment, "To convey the crudity of the Greek ... 'It's all
>crap.' "
>( A question recently asked on the list was the value of studying

The word certainly "sounds" like having something to do with ba/llw, (like
Spanish word "sandalia" sounds like having to do with "andar", without
being a possible etymological relation, and such coincidences *can*
determine the history of a word) but EIS KUWN BALLEIN can be nothing but
popular or pre-scientific (a la Isidoro de Sevilla) etymology. I don't know
of any etymology for the word, but RBLG gives the following references (I
omit the already quoted study from Spicq):
        W. Schwarz: BICS 20, 1973 pp. 106, 113-4
        Peek, W. "Compositis componendis: Grabepigramm eines Bithiniers in
Tomis" in StudClas. 17, 1977 pp. 113-6

Daniel Ria–o Rufilanchas
Madrid, Espa–a

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