Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

The number 16 is "seize" in French. Based on research through standard channels, I find it unlikely that our English word "seize" derives from this, but I've always been curious about the connection between the two.

Do these two words share some unlikely but common origin, or is it just a coincidence/false cognate?

share|improve this question
6  
For this were dictionaries invented. –  tchrist Jun 19 '13 at 2:33
    
@tchrist A bit better? I wouldn't have posted this if I could simply look it up in a dictionary. –  jonsca Jun 19 '13 at 2:45
    
No, there isn't. –  Pitarou Jun 19 '13 at 3:21
add comment

closed as general reference by tchrist, Carlo_R., FumbleFingers, Mitch, MετάEd Jun 19 '13 at 3:19

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

1 Answer

up vote 6 down vote accepted

The orthographical resemblance is purely accidental. According to the OED, seize < Old French saisir < Frankish Late Latin sacire, which in turn might originate with a Frankish cognate of the English set. On the other hand, French seize < Latin sēdecim, which can be analysed as sex + decem (i.e., "six" + "ten"); indeed, I suppose one could argue that the straightforward English cognate of seize is nothing other than sixteen...

share|improve this answer
    
Thank you, I appreciate you taking the time to explain this to a non-expert. –  jonsca Jun 19 '13 at 2:59
add comment

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.