I am from the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium, and this popped into my head today. Is the word acorn (the nut of an oak tree) in any way related to the Dutch word for squirrel, eekhoorn, the animal that collects acorns for food?

Looking at eekhoorn, one will have a hard time finding any logical meaning to the naming of this animal. There's eek, which is not a Dutch word, and hoorn which means horn. So it doesn't make much sense. But the pronunciation even in Dutch/Flemish is remarkably equal to the English acorn.

Since many words have migrated country borders (like the NL bolwerk and EN bulwark), I wouldn't be surprised if it's the same with acorn/eekhoorn, except for the fact that eekhoorn is the actual animal that consumes the acorns. That would make it pretty unique, I think.

By the way, acorn in Dutch is eikel, having different connotations which I won't explain here.

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    Sadly not: see the etymology of acorn at Etymonline – Matt E. Эллен Dec 3 '13 at 15:07
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    @MattЭллен, but what's the etymology of the Dutch squirrel? hoorn-horn could be a coincidence, and if æcern meant nut, and squirrels are nut-eaters... – Chris H Dec 3 '13 at 15:14
  • He did answer my question in a way (the english etymology part). Unfortunately the Dutch Language SE is currently in definition phase. – pleinolijf Dec 3 '13 at 15:18
  • Wiktionary says that eekhoorn comes from proto-Germanic aikwernô. The proto-Germanic word for oak is aiks. So maybe eekhoorns have oak in their etymology, just like acorns. (Does anybody know what the wernô might have come from?) – Peter Shor Dec 3 '13 at 15:36
  • The etymology of eekhoorn is uncertain beyond Proto-Germanic: gtb.inl.nl/iWNTLINKS/DATADIR/paginazy.html?EWN+/iWDB/… There may or may not be connections with other words and stems. The word acorn does not appear to be related. – Cerberus_Reinstate_Monica Dec 3 '13 at 17:28

This is actually an interesting question. The OED provides this tale:

Etymology: The formal history of this word has been much perverted by ‘popular etymology.’ OE. æcern neut., pl. æcernu, is cogn. w. ONor. akarn neut. (Dan. agern, Norw. aakorn), Dutch aker ‘acorn,’ OHG. ackeran masc. and neut. (mod.G. ecker, pl. eckern) ‘oak or beech mast,’ Goth. akran ‘fruit,’ prob. a deriv. of Goth. akr-s, ONor. akr, OE. æcer ‘field,’ orig. ‘open unenclosed country, the plain.’

Hence akran appears to have been originally ‘fruit of the unenclosed land, natural produce of the forest,’ mast of oak, beech, etc., as in HG., extended in Gothic to ‘fruit’ generally, and gradually confined in Low G., Scand., and Eng., to the most important forest produce, the mast of the oak. (See Grimm, under Ackeran and Ecker.) In Ælfric’s Genesis xliv. 11, it had perhaps still the wider sense, a reminiscence of which also remains in the ME. akernes of okes.

Along with this restriction of application, there arose a tendency to find in the name some connexion with oak, OE. ác, north. ake, aik. Hence the 15th and 16th c. refashionings ake-corn, oke-corn, ake-horn, oke-horn, with many pseudo-etymological and imperfectly phonetic variants. Of these the 17th c. literary acron seems to simulate the Gr. ἄκρον top, point, peak.

The normal mod. repr. of OE. æcern would be akern, akren, or ? atchern as already in 4; the actual acorn is due to the 16th c. fancy that the word corn formed part of the name.

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