I wrote yesterday about the origins of the word ‘cumbersome’:

The ‘some’ part of cumbersome is Old English, and that was attached to what indeed was an old French word, the cumber part of it, meaning to overthrow, destroy, or even in the extreme, to rape – or in a different route from Middle English from older French, a meaning to obstruct or hinder.

… and also ‘cucumber’, (also called cowcumbers four hundred years ago)  which is not related even though it sounds the same, as it comes from an Old French word, cocombre, which ahs become in modern French concombre. As with many French words, it came from Latin cucumerem which itself probably originated in a language before Latin. What were cucumbers before the Normans gave us cucumber? Eorþæppla, literally ‘earth-apples’. …

So what about Cumberland, now Cumbria? Anything to do with cumbersome or cucumber? No. It is probably as old, if not older than the pre-Latin cucumber, but it is home-grown; it comes from the Old English Cumbraland which was the land of the Cumbrians, and the Cumbrians  name was old Brythonic  kombrogi. This is also where the modern word for Wales in Welsh comes from, Cymru.

Now… what about cumberbund? … nothing to do with any of the above as it comes from Hindi!

5 thoughts on “Cumbersome, cucumber, Cumbria…

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