Etymology
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Words related to couth

can (v.1)

Old English 1st and 3rd person singular present indicative of cunnan "to know," less commonly as an auxiliary, "have power to, to be able," (also "have carnal knowledge"), from Proto-Germanic *kunnjanan "be mentally able, have learned" (source also of Old Norse kenna "become acquainted, try," Old Frisian kanna "recognize, admit, know," German kennen "know," Middle Dutch kennen "know," Gothic kannjan "make known"), from PIE root *gno- "to know."

It holds now only the third sense of "know," that of "know how to do something" (as opposed to "know as a fact" and "be acquainted with" something or someone). Also used in the sense of may, denoting mere permission. An Old English preterite-present verb, its original past participle, couth, survived only in negation (see uncouth), but compare could. The present participle has spun off with a deflected sense as cunning.

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could (v.)

Old English cuðe, past tense of cunnan "to be able" (see can (v.1)); ending changed 14c. to standard English -d(e). The unetymological -l- was added 15c.-16c. on model of would, should, where it is historical. Could be as a response to a suggestion, indicating it may be correct, is by 1938.

uncouth (adj.)

Old English uncuð "unknown, strange, unusual; uncertain, unfamiliar; unfriendly, unkind, rough," from un- (1) "not" + cuð "known, well-known," past participle of cunnan "to know" (see can (v.1)), from PIE root *gno- "to know." Meaning "strange, crude, clumsy" is first recorded 1510s. The compound (and the thing it describes) widespread in IE languages, such as Latin ignorantem, Old Norse ukuðr, Gothic unkunþs, Sanskrit ajnatah, Armenian ancanaut', Greek agnotos, Old Irish ingnad "unknown."

*gno- 

*gnō-, Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to know."

It forms all or part of: acknowledge; acquaint; agnostic; anagnorisis; astrognosy; can (v.1) "have power to, be able;" cognition; cognizance; con (n.2) "study;" connoisseur; could; couth; cunning; diagnosis; ennoble; gnome; (n.2) "short, pithy statement of general truth;" gnomic; gnomon; gnosis; gnostic; Gnostic; ignoble; ignorant; ignore; incognito; ken (n.1) "cognizance, intellectual view;" kenning; kith; know; knowledge; narrate; narration; nobility; noble; notice; notify; notion; notorious; physiognomy; prognosis; quaint; recognize; reconnaissance; reconnoiter; uncouth; Zend.

It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit jna- "know;" Avestan zainti- "knowledge," Old Persian xšnasatiy "he shall know;" Old Church Slavonic znati "recognizes," Russian znat "to know;" Latin gnoscere "get to know," nobilis "known, famous, noble;" Greek gignōskein "to know," gnōtos "known," gnōsis "knowledge, inquiry;" Old Irish gnath "known;" German kennen "to know," Gothic kannjan "to make known."

seldom (adv.)

"rarely, not often, infrequently," late Old English and early Middle English seldum, an alteration of seldan "infrequently, rarely," from Proto-Germanic *selda- "strange, rare" (source also of Old Norse sjaldan, Old Frisian selden, Dutch zelden, Old High German seltan, German selten), a word of uncertain etymology. Perhaps ultimately from the base of self (q.v.).

The form shifted apparently on analogy of adverbial dative plurals in -um (as in whilom "at one time," from Old English hwilum, from the source of while). The same development also created litlum from little, miclum from mickle. Also compare random, ransom. The forms in -n decreased from 14c. and faded out in 16c.

Old English seldan had comparative seldor, superlative seldost; in early Middle English, as seldan changed form and lost its connection with these, selde was back-formed as a positive. Shakespeare uses seld-shown "rarely exhibited." Some compounds using the old form survived through Middle English, such as selcouth "rarely or little-known, unusual, strange, wonderful," from Old English selcuð, seld-cuð, from seldan + cuð (see couth). 

 German seltsam "strange, odd," Dutch zeldzaam are cognates of seldom, but with the second element conformed to their cognates of -some. Related: Seldomness.

Seldom-times "rarely, hardly ever" is from mid-15c. (earlier was seld-when, Old English seldhwanne "rarely," which lasted until 16c.). Seldom-seen "rarely encountered" is from mid-15c.; older was seld-seen (Middle English seld-sen, from Old English seldsiene), which lasted long enough to appear in Marlowe (seildsene, 1590s).

tooth (n.)

Old English toð (plural teð), from Proto-Germanic *tanthu- (source also of Old Saxon, Danish, Swedish, Dutch tand, Old Norse tönn, Old Frisian toth, Old High German zand, German Zahn, Gothic tunþus), from PIE root *dent- "tooth." Plural teeth is an instance of i-mutation.

The loss of -n- before spirants is regular in Old English, Old Frisian, and Old Saxon: compare goose (n.), five, mouth (n.). Also thought, from stem of think; couth from the stem of can (v.1); us from *uns.

Application to tooth-like parts of other objects (saws, combs, etc.) first recorded 1520s. Tooth and nail as weapons is from 1530s. The tooth-fairy is attested from 1964.