all Nordic languages: cognates of Icelandic nabbi?


Senior Member
English, USA
Icelandic nabbi "pimple" bears a strong resemblance to Finnish näppy / näppylä "pimple". The Finnish etymological dictionary I consulted (Häkkinen 2004) says that näppylä is probably a native Finnic word, and doesn't mention a connection with Icelandic or any other Germanic language, but I haven't given up on the possibility of a connection (also, this dictionary has been criticized for leaving out certain loan etymologies).

Does nabbi have any cognates in the other Nordic languages? I.e., is there a word beginning in *napp- or *nabb- in Swedish/Norwegian/Danish that has a meaning similar or identical to Ice. nabbi? I've done some searching but haven't found any clear examples yet.

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  • That's a very interesting connection you found there.

    The first Swedish word for pimple that comes to my mind is finne. Interestingly enough, this is also the colloquial and, for obvious reasons, somewhat controversial word for Finn (the official being finländare (do note that Swedish does not capitalize nouns derived from proper nouns)). How this situation came to be, I don't know.

    The only words that I can think of that resemble nabbi are napp - beak/bill and napp - pacifier, neither which is very similar in meaning.

    I'll keep looking however.
    Well, there is "nubb", a small nail with a large head, you could say that the head looks like a pimple.
    The closest thing I can think of in Norwegian would be "nupp" or "nuppe", explained as "a small unevenness in cloth or skin" by

    According to the dictionary it's probably derived from the verb "å nuppe/nappe". I assume this verb has the same etymological roots as "to nip" as they mean more or less the same. A pretty long shot I guess.
    This entry in a (fairly old) Swedish etymological dictionary mentions the word nabb(e). It seems to be saying that nabb(e) is linked to Norse (and therefore also Icelandic) nabbi, and that both are linked to Norse/Icel. nef "nose" (< earlier "beak").

    Question for the Swedish readers: does the abbreviation "o." = och?
    It seems obvious that “nabb(e)” isn't the commonest of words in contemporary Scandinavian. But you do find it in the dictionaries, even the contemporary ones. I didn't recognize the word at first, but having thought about it, I'm sure I've heard it used, referring to a “protruding knoll/rock” (J. Fritzners ordbok: “nabbr, m. fremstaaende Knold”), or something along those lines.

    As for pimples, Bonniers svenska ordbok lists "nabbgummi" as the kind of rubber you often find on ping pong rackets, i.e. "pimpled rubber". :)

    “Nabb” is also listed as meaning "pimple" in this sense, but not “zit”. There are a few other meanings listend in e.g. Nynorskordboka and Svenska Akademiens ordbok, the common denominator being that “nabb(e)” is used to refer to something that protrudes from some kind of surface or landscape.