What’s In a Word: Etymology of ‘Hungry’

A hungry man is not a free man.” ~ Adlai Stevenson, speech at Hartford, Conneticut

Sometimes I get random bouts of inspiration at the oddest of moments. Such as earlier today, I began thinking about how hungry I was and then realized that I haven’t done anything concerning Linguistic Anthropology. So here is the beginning of a new series, titled What’s In a Word, about the etymology, which is the study of English words and phrases, of specific words.

The word is ‘hungy’. Merriam Webster defines it as “suffering because of a lack of food : greatly affected by hunger: having an uncomfortable feeling in your stomach because you need food : feeling hunger: feeling a strong desire or need for something or to do something”.

“I get too hungry for dinner at eight. I like the theater, but never come late. I never both with people I hate. That’s why the lady is a tramp” ~The Lady is a Tramp, Lorenz Hart (1937)

My two  main sources, Online Etymology Dictionary and AllExpert, had this to say;

Online Etymology Dictionary had this:

“hunger (n.) Old English hungor “unease or pain caused by lack of food, craving appetite, debility from lack of food,” from Proto-Germanic *hungruz (cognates: Old Frisian hunger, Old Saxonhungar, Old High German hungar, Old Norse hungr, German hunger, Dutch honger, Gothic huhrus), probably from PIE root *kenk- (2) “to suffer hunger or thirst.” Hunger strike attested from 1885; earliest references are to prisoners in Russia.

hunger (v.) Old English hyngran (cognates: Old Saxon gihungrjan, Old High German hungaran, German hungern, Gothic huggrjan), from the source of hunger (n.). Related: Hungered;hungering.” (Douglas Harper)

While AlllExpert had this:

Hunger stems from the Old English word ‘hungor’ meaning pain caused by lack of food. (about the year 725 AD)  Hungor, in turn is a relative of the Old Frisian word ‘hunger’ (same spelling and meaning as our current word ‘hunger’) Hunger is also a cognate (relative) of the Old Saxon ‘hungar’, Old High German ‘hungar’ and Gothic ‘huhrus.  We find the word ‘hungren’ replacing the Old English ‘hyngrian’ in the early 1200’s.
The word ‘hungry’ comes along in about the year 1150 developed from Old English ‘hungrig’.” (Carol Pozefsky & Ted Nesbitt)

Dictators ride to and fro upun tiger which they dare not dismount. And the tigers are getting hungry.” ~ Churchill 1937

This entry was posted in England, Europe, What's In a Word. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s