Etymology (Meaning of Words)/peas/ant

Advertisement


Question
Hello Carol,

I suppose I could ask if you yourself know of some reasonably certain connection between the words, "pea (peas)" and "peasant." Being told the answer would be fineóbut I'd be happy enough being advised as to how I might go about doing that myself. (Dictionaries only go a very short way with such things.)

regards,
Phrixos

Answer

Hello, I hope you are having a fine weekend,
    You are so right;  Most dictionaries provide definitions but are weak on etymology.  
Barnhart's Dictionary of Etymology is considered an excellent resource for word histories.
Here's what Barnhart's provides on the words 'pea' and 'peasant'/
         
      Pea:  The name for the legume we know today as 'pea' enters our language in about 1381 as 'pease';  earlier 'pese', 'pea', 'pesen' (plural)   Developed from Old English 'pise', 'pea', 'pisa' (plurarl)  Going back even further, we find the word 'pisa' in Late Latin.          

      Peasant:   Enters English approx. 1410 as 'passant' meaning countryman, rustic;  later 'paissaunt' (probably around 1451) borrowed from Anglo-French'paisant', Old French 'paisant'..etc.

      It seems clear that the words 'pea' and 'peasant' do not have common origins.

   Thank you for the question and, if you'd like to own a good stymology source , again, Barnhart's Dictionary of Etymology is generally considered the best of the lot.

   Best to you always,
         CP

Etymology (Meaning of Words)

All Answers


Answers by Expert:


Ask Experts

Volunteer


Carol Pozefsky

Expertise

Etymology: The origins of English words and phrases. Anchor/Reporter NBC and CBS Networks. News Director 3 Regional Radio Stations.

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.