A while back, I read an article that mentioned how certain words, like "Guardian" and "Warden", both entered English as different forms of the same original word.

E.g. The original French word "guarder" mutated into "warder" in Norman French, but both variants entered English at different times in history, and both forms survive today. There are undoubtedly other examples in English and in other languages.

The article also used a single word that described this phenomenon, but I can't remember what it is. "Cognate" seems like a fair description, but I seem to remember there being a more specific way to describe the same word in two different forms in the same language.

Does anyone know of a word that describes this exact phenomenon?

  • 1
    They're called "doublets". en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doublet_(linguistics) Commented Sep 12, 2017 at 17:53
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    @filistinist why not post as an answer? Commented Sep 12, 2017 at 19:22
  • But please be aware that the word "doublets" has many different meanings!
    – WS2
    Commented Sep 12, 2017 at 19:42
  • @CarlWitthoft should I? It's so short and nothing but a Wikipedia link. I don't really have anything in-depth to say about it. Maybe someone else has a more nuanced analysis to add. Commented Sep 12, 2017 at 20:00

1 Answer 1



please be aware that the word "doublets" has many different meanings!

as stated in the comment section by WS2, so we'll be taking a look at the linguistic variant.

doublets (linguistic) are two distinct words derived from the same source but by different routes of transmission, such as poison and potion (both from the Latin potio/potionis - a drink).

  • Also known as lexical doublets or etymological twins.
  • they vary in closeness of meaning as well as form: guarantee/warranty are fairly close in form and have almost the same meaning; abbreviate/abridge are distant in form but close in meaning (though they serve distinct ends); costume/custom are fairly close in form but distant in meaning, but both relate to human activities.

Some Examples:

  • diamond is a doublet of adamant, the two words having come ultimately from the same Greek word - adamas/adamantos.

  • hostel (from Old French), hospital (from Latin), and hotel (from modern French), all derived from the Latin word - hospitale/hospitalis.

  • Perfect. Just what I was looking for, and those are some great examples I didn't know about. Thanks!
    – user211762
    Commented Sep 13, 2017 at 22:13

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