Euterpe & Terpsichore both contain the same etymological word root:

Euterpe muse of music, from Greek Euterpe, literally "well-pleasing," from eu "well" (see eu-) + terpein "to delight, please" (see Terpsichore). "


Terpsichore the muse of the dance, Greek Terpsikhore, literally "enjoyment of dance," from terpein "to delight" (from PIE root terp- "to satisfy;") + khoros "dance, chorus"

Does the Greek word root, terpein, or the parent PIE root terp- survive in any contemporary English word (not directly related to the two muses themselves)?

  • 1
    You can try looking through findtheword.info/…*terp*&page=23, although there are lots of false positives from word boundaries. – March Ho Feb 15 '15 at 12:08
  • Of course my first thought was the sweet-smelling turpentine, and I was especially excited about the idea after reading the first entry here, but unfortunately, as it turns out, the Greek root of that word is actually τερέβινθος, terebinthe, having a "B", as opposed to the "P" found in εὖ+τέρπειν. In turn, τερέβινθος is derived from an earlier Pelasgian word, according to Wikipedia. – Dan Bron Feb 15 '15 at 12:25
  • My first thought is the "degenerate" answer: Terpsichorean. :-) – Hellion Feb 15 '15 at 15:26

According to Wiktionary, thrive is from this root. (The OED does not go back beyond North Germanic for this, and Pokorny doesn't mention it).

thrive: from Middle English thriven, from Old Norse þrífa (“to seize, grasp, take hold, prosper”), from Proto-Germanic *þrībaną (“to seize, prosper”), from Proto-Indo-European *trep-, *terp- (“to satisfy, enjoy”).

Unfortunately, Wiktionary's policy on referencing only covers examples, not etymology, so there is no reference for the origin. The OED doesn't mention the "prosper" meaning for the Old Norse word,

  • This is interesting! Can you quote the relevant parts of the Wiktionary entry here, with a link back to the page? Also might be interesting to chase through Wiktionary's own references on this subject, to get back to the original source. – Dan Bron Feb 15 '15 at 12:54
  • Done. No sources, as I mention. – Colin Fine Feb 15 '15 at 13:03
  • And English thrift. – TRomano Feb 15 '15 at 13:07
  • Thrift is derived from thrive within English, I think. Like height and weight. – Colin Fine Feb 15 '15 at 13:10

The torpēre entry from Charlton T. Lewis, Charles Short, A Latin Dictionary begins:

torpĕo, ēre, v. n. Sanscr. root tarp-, to sate; Gr. τέρπω

I. to be stiff, numb, motionless, inactive, torpid, sluggish, etc. [...]

This is also mentioned at the Wiktionary entry for torpeo, French and English version. This would give torpor, for example. The English version goes on to suggest a link to PIE *ster (“stiff”), which projects into Old English as steorfan ("to die"), modern English starve.

Found en route starting from the Czech trpět ("to suffer"), by the way.

Edit. *(s)terp- entry in The tower of Babel by Sergei Starostin et al. mentions *terp- as possibly the same root.

  • Torpedo also comes from this root (being the Roman name of an electric fish, resembling a cylinder, whose shock apparently made the victims numb and lethargic). Whether this is too indirect to qualify for OPs question I know not. – Tim Lymington supports Monica Feb 15 '15 at 16:48
  • Well, there you go. A real etymology for stiff = "corpse" without reference to rigor. – Andrew Leach Feb 15 '15 at 19:55

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