Etymology
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Words related to Beaver

*bher- (2)

Proto-Indo-European root meaning "bright; brown" (the sense connection might involve polished wooden objects).

It forms all or part of: Barnard; bear (n.) "large carnivorous or omnivorous mammal of the family Ursidae;" beaver (n.1) "large amphibious quadruped rodent of the genus Castor;" berserk; brown; Bruin; brunet; brunette; burnish.

It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Old English brun "dark, dusky;" Lithuanian bėras "brown;" Greek phrynos "toad," literally "the brown animal."

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bear (n.)
Origin and meaning of bear

"large carnivorous or omnivorous mammal of the family Ursidae," Old English bera "a bear," from Proto-Germanic *bero, literally "the brown (one)" (source also of Old Norse björn, Middle Dutch bere, Dutch beer, Old High German bero, German Bär), usually said to be from PIE root *bher- (2) "bright; brown." There was perhaps a PIE *bheros "dark animal" (compare beaver (n.1) and Greek phrynos "toad," literally "the brown animal").

Greek arktos and Latin ursus retain the PIE root word for "bear" (*rtko; see arctic), but it is believed to have been ritually replaced in the northern branches because of hunters' taboo on names of wild animals (compare the Irish equivalent "the good calf," Welsh "honey-pig," Lithuanian "the licker," Russian medved "honey-eater"). Others connect the Germanic word with Latin ferus "wild," as if it meant "the wild animal (par excellence) of the northern woods."

Symbolic of Russia since 1794. Used of rude, gruff, uncouth men since 1570s. Stock market meaning "speculator for a fall" is 1709 shortening of bearskin jobber (from the proverb sell the bearskin before one has caught the bear); i.e. "one who sells stock for future delivery, expecting that meanwhile prices will fall." Paired with bull from c. 1720. Bear claw as a type of large pastry is from 1942, originally chiefly western U.S. Bear-garden (1590s) was a place where bears were kept for the amusement of spectators.

castor (n.)

late 14c., "a beaver," from Old French castor (13c.), from Latin castor "beaver," from Greek kastor "beaver," literally "he who excels," also the name of one of the divine twins (with Pollux), worshipped by women in ancient Greece as a healer and preserver from disease.

It has been assumed that the hero's name was given to the animal because he was a noted healer and the odorous reddish-brown secretions of the inguinal sacs of the animal (Latin castoreum), were used medicinally in ancient times, especially for women's diseases. But the animal did not live in Greece in classical times (the closest beavers were north of the Black Sea), and the name probably was borrowed from another language, perhaps influenced by the hero's name. The Greek word replaced the native Latin word for "beaver" (fiber).

In English, castor is attested in the secretion sense from late 14c. Modern castor oil is first recorded 1746; it is made from seeds of the plant Ricinus communis but supposedly possesses the laxative qualities (and taste) of beaver juice.

beard (n.)

"close growth of hair on the chin and lower face, normally characteristic of an adult male" (that of the upper lip being distinguished in Modern English as the mustache), Old English beard "beard," from Proto-Germanic *bard (source also of Old Frisian berd, Middle Dutch baert, Old High German bart, German bart), said in Pokorny to be from a PIE root *bhardhā- "beard" (source also of Old Church Slavonic brada, Russia boroda, Lithuanian barzda, Old Prussian bordus, and perhaps Latin barba "beard"), but Boutkan rejects this on phonetic grounds and suggests a non-IE substrate word. Old French berd is from Germanic.

The Greek and Roman Churches have long disputed about the beard. While the Romanists have at different times practised shaving, the Greeks, on the contrary, have strenuously defended the cause of long beards. Leo III. (795 AD) was the first shaved Pope. Pope Gregory IV., after the lapse of only 30 years, fulminated a Bull against bearded priests. In the 12th century the prescription of the beard was extended to the laity. Pope Honorius III. to disguise his disfigured lip, allowed his beard to grow. Henry I. of England was so much moved by a sermon directed against his beard that he resigned it to the barber. Frederick Barbarossa is said to have been equally tractable. [Tom Robinson, M.D., "Beards," St. James's Magazine, 1881]

Pubic hair sense is from 1600s (but neþir berd "pubic hair" is from late 14c.); in the 1811 "Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue," the phrase beard-splitter is defined as, "A man much given to wenching" (compare beaver in the slang genital sense).