September 11, 2007

Etymologist 7: Emerald/มรกต

Today I have another interesting connection between Thai and English to share. The Thai word for emerald, มรกต, is actually cognate with its English equivalent. First let's check out the RID99 definition of มรกต:
มรกต [มอระกด] น. ชื่อรัตนะอย่างหนึ่งในจำพวกนพรัตน์ มีสีเขียว.
"The name of a type of precious stone, one of the nine gems, green in color." (my translation) has this to say about the origin of emerald:
c.1300, from O.Fr. emeraude, from M.L. esmaraldus, from L. smaragdus, from Gk. smaragdos "green gem," from Sem. baraq "shine"... Skt. maragdam "emerald" is from the same source...
To sum up, we have English emerald coming from Greek smaragdos, related to the Sanskrit root maragdam. The Sanskrit has another form (or perhaps another transliteration, I'm not sure)--marakatam. The etymologies given in RID are woefully incomplete, so it's not surprising they don't acknowledge the Indic source of the word, but it's a pretty obvious connection between marakatam and มรกต. And thus between มรกต and emerald.


  1. Your comments on etymology are great. You help us increase our depth of understanding of the Thai language itself, as well as helping us to see the strings which bind us across realm of human expression.

  2. I'm glad you think so. I have fun researching them. :)