Friday, February 18, 2011


Libation \ly-BAY-shun\ , noun;
1. The act of pouring a liquid (usually wine) either on the ground or on a victim in sacrifice to some deity; also, the wine or liquid thus poured out
2. A beverage, especially an alcoholic beverage
3. An act or instance of drinking

This word dates to the late 14th century and comes from Latin libationem, which is the nominative of libatio, or "a drink offering". Libatio is derived from libare ("pour out (an offering)") which comes from Proto-Indo-European *(s)leib- ("to pour, drop"), an enlargement of the base *lei- ("to pour, to flow"). The sense of "liquid pour out to be drunk" is first attested in 1751.

Oddly enough, we do know the Proto-Indo-European word for "to pour a libation" and it not related to libation at all. It may be, however, the forebear of god:

Old English god ˚ corresponds to similar words in Old Frisian, Old Saxon, Dutch, Old High German, Old Norse, and Gothic, so it is a decidedly Germanic (also called Teutonic) word. The Old Teutonic form is *guðo and before that, the etymology is a little shaky. Based on the Old Teutonic word, the pre-Germanic (i.e. Proto-Indo-European) form is probably either *ghudho- or *ghutó. This, however, is a reconstruction based on the mathematical proof-like rules that historical linguists follow to piece together ancestral languages, not a traced etymology. Using *ghudho- as the root doesn't really go anywhere, but *ghutó leads us to *gheu- because it is the neuter of the passive participle of that root. *Gheu- is the forebear of two Sanskrit words, one meaning "to invoke" and the other "to pour, offer sacrifice", so it might make sense for it to also lead to a Germanic word meaning "an object of worship". Some scholars have posited that "to pour" invokes a sense of a "molten image", thereby explaining the leap from "to pour" to "an object of worship" without any intermediary steps.

˚ God was the masculine singular form of the word, since Old English had case and grammatical gender there were other forms (plural plural godu, godo neuter, godas masculine).

Today's word and the first definition were both taken from's 'Word of the Day' for Friday, February 18
Etymologies come from the Oxford English Dictionary and/or

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