What is the oldest known origin of the word "halcyon"?

asked 2018-01-18 14:29:29 -0400

Nedina gravatar image

I can trace the word back to the myth of Alcyone and its connection to the kingfisher, but I couldn't find any information about how the word was formed or where exactly did it come from?

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"Halcyon" is a Latinization of the Greek 'ἀλκυών (halkuṓn). This word is composed of two roots hals (sea) and kuōn ([hunting] dog). Hals is used to form names like Halia & Haliakmon, and kuōn has several meanings: dog, guardian, divine servant, shark, &c (See the LSJ entry for κύων: bit.ly/2ro83O4)

ChrisF gravatar imageChrisF ( 2018-01-19 15:00:02 -0400 )edit

Alternatively, kuōn could be from another root meaning something like "born of." So a halcyon is either a "guardian of the sea" or "born of the sea" or, more likely, an intended ambiguity that means both names at the same time, which I think is more in line with the story of the mythical figure.

ChrisF gravatar imageChrisF ( 2018-01-19 15:06:10 -0400 )edit