feather (derivations, metaphorical)

Discussion in 'All Languages' started by ThomasK, Dec 31, 2018.

  1. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    The pens thread reminded me of feathers, veer/veren in Dutch. This root turns up quite often and/or is often used in a metaphorical sense:

    - veren, verb: to bounce like on a bed of Feathers (verenbed, bedbag...), leading to
    - vering: suspension of a car
    - veerkracht/ig: resilience/ resilient (power to bounce, to op-veren (bounce up)
    - geveerd, of leaves: showing up a feather-like pattern

    There might well be more that I cannot think of now. We can also use pennen informally for writing, though not so common anymore. Pluim is another word, but we use it mainly for "een pluim voor jou", a feather for you, i.e., a distinction, a praise.

    The question is: has the concept of feathers (and its realisations) led to derivations or metaphorical expressions in your language?
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2018
  2. TheCrociato91 Senior Member

    Brescia, Italy
    Italian - Northern Italy
    In Italian we have two main words for bird feather:
    - penna, which also refers:
    • to the writing instrument (pen);
    • metaphorically, to a writer / author;
    • a type of pasta;
    • to a USB key (although not very common, at least in my area);
    • ...
    - piuma, which also refers:
    • broadly, to whole plumage (= the feathers covering a bird’s body); also piumaggio;
    • to a boxing weight class (peso piuma = featherweight);
    • ... can't think of more meanings off the top of my head, but there probably are.
    As usual, anyone is welcome to complete this list.
  3. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    How about derivations based on penna, TC91? Any references to beds or bouncing for example?

    We have pluimgewichten in boxing as well, come to think of it.
  4. TheCrociato91 Senior Member

    Brescia, Italy
    Italian - Northern Italy
    Off the top of my head I can only think of "impennare", which means "to pop a wheelie". That kinda counts as bouncing, doesn't it? :p

    Another derivation from penna: spennare, literally: remove the feathers from an animal (to pluck); figurately: "to rip someone off", "to fleece" (curious that the latter English word literally means to shear the wool from; why is ripping someone off connected to "undressing" animals? :p:p ).

    When it comes to beds, we use the other word ("piuma") to refer to a type of duvet / comforter / quilt: piumino or piumone.
    In addition to the above, piumino may also mean: feather duster (thanks Dymn for the heads-up) and also down / quilted jacket.

    I'll have a think and come back if I can come up with other words.
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2018
  5. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    Excellent. The funny thing is that we use donsbed for the piumino, "dons" referring to "down, fuzz, puff", the very small feathers… People will even not associate dons with feathers in general…
  6. Dymn

    Dymn Senior Member

    In Spanish, the word for feather (pluma) can also mean:
    • Quill
    • Fountain pen
    • In journalistic/literary language, to a writer or their writing style
    • The way of acting effeminate, supposedly typical of homosexuals. I think the English equivalent is "to be camp".
    Collocations and derivations:
    • peso pluma: featherweight
    • plumaje: plumage
    • desplumar: to pluck
    • plumero: feather duster
      • vérsele el plumero a alguien: to show one's true colours
  7. Yendred Senior Member

    Français - France
    In French, apart from the expressions linked to writing (prendre sa plus belle plume, avoir une plume acerbe), there is an outdated expression "tailler une plume" which means "to give a blow job". The modern version would be "tailler une pipe".
  8. apmoy70

    apmoy70 Senior Member

    In Greek the word for feather is «πτερό» [pteˈɾɔ] (neut.), or colloq. «φτερό» [fteˈɾɔ] (neut.) < Classical neut. noun «πτερόν» ptĕrón --> feather, wing (PIE *péth₂r̥- feather, wing cf Hitt. pattar-, wing, Skt. पत्त्र (pattra), wing, Av. patarə-, wing, Arm. թեր ‎(t'er), leaf, Proto-Germanic *feþrō).
    Τhe softer down, is called «πούπουλο» [ˈpu.pu.lɔ] (neut.) < Ven. pupola.

    «Φτερό» [fteˈɾɔ] (neut.) --> duster.
    «Κατηγορία φτερού» [ka.ti.ɣɔˈɾi.a fteˈɾu] --> category of feather, for the lightweight (featherweight) boxing class.
    «Φτερό στον άνεμο» [fteˈɾɔ stɔn ˈa.ne.mɔ] --> feather in the wind (said for weaker people influenced by stronger, or for those who always change their point of view as if they're drifting along like a feather in the wind).
    «Ανοίγω τα φτερά μου» [aˈni.ɣɔ ta fteˈɾa mu] --> to open one's wings (spread the wings), used as metaphor when we start brand new things in our life.
    Adj. «πουπουλένιος, -νια, -νιο» [pu.puˈle.ɲɔs] (masc.), [pu.puˈle.ɲa] (fem.), [pu.puˈle.ɲɔ] (neut.) --> feathery, soft like a feather.
    «Πίσσα και πούπουλα» [ˈpi.sa ce ˈpu.pu.la] --> tar and downs (tarring and feathering), used as metaphor for severe public criticism.
    V. «ξεπουπουλιάζω» [k͜se.pu.puˈʎa.zɔ] & adj. «ξεπουπουλιασμένος, -νη, -νο» [k͜se.pu.pu.ʎazˈme.nɔs] (masc.), [k͜se.pu.pu.ʎazˈme.ni] (fem.), [k͜se.pu.pu.ʎazˈme.nɔ] (neut.) --> (v.) to pluck, (adj.) plucked
  9. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    I forgot to mention an interesting one in Dutch: pluimen can mean 'to take off the feathers', but the figurative sense is also fairly common: to take one's riches, make that person poor!

    We do not use feathers as a metonym (pars pro toto) for wings in Dutch, nor does it refer to flying in any sense, but...

    I would like to say to you for this year: open your wings this year again and let us carry one another on our wings... (Too soft, but OK...)
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2019
  10. bibax Senior Member

    Czech (Prague)

    péro or pero (neuter noun, related to feather, Feder, πτερόν, ...), dim. pírko, perko, pérko;

    1) feather (of a bird);
    2) pen (writing instrument);
    3) spring (like in watch spring) > pérování (verb pérovati) = suspension [system] (of a vehicle);
    4) tongue in tongue and groove or tongue-in-groove = pero a drážka;
    5) a cut of beef (péro, something near neck);
    6) vulg. dick, cock, prick;

    7) perka (dim. pl.) = shoes/boots with an elastic part (so the shoelaces are needless);
    8) pérová váha = featherweight in several sport disciplines;
    9) bot. zpeření (root -peř-) = pinnation (e.g. zpeřený list = folium pinnatum, Klokoč zpeřený = Staphylea pinnata);
    10) bot. zpeřenka = thuidium;
    11) poet. opeřenec = bird;
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2019
  11. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    Thanks a lot, Bibax! I have added some questions and some notes…

    @apmoy70: can we add helicopter to your list? is there a word containing -pter and meaning "flying" in Greek?

  12. bibax Senior Member

    Czech (Prague)
    IMHO in Greek to fly is πέτομαι (pétomai), related to πτερόν (pterón), feather, pero (a Panslavic noun) < *peth-r-, IE root *peth- to fly;

    - tongue and groove: pero a drážka = literally feather and groove, however it means rather "spring and groove" than "feather or pen and groove";
    - as for beef and dick I have no idea, probably the shape;
    - perka are shoes with a noticeable elastic part (a gore, a gusset) inserted in a seam to provide expansion, it is essential for them (hence perka = lit. little springs);

    penna or pinna < *petnā, hence pen in English;
    pine (tree) is pinus (< *pīt- ‘resin’ ) in Latin;
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2019
  13. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    Spring and groove: I think I see. Perka: so not really mocassins as such… Thanks!

    Interesting hint to Latin. I checked at Etymonline.com, and there are some words based on it. They mostly contain pin-, but maybe even 'fin' may be based on 'pin'...
  14. Perseas Senior Member

    My (Greek) dictionary says that the Greek ελικόπτερο is a transfer from the French hélicoptère, which is based on the Greek words έλιξ/gen. έλικ-ος (spiral, propeller) & πτερό (wing). I think apmoy70 will confirm.
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2019
  15. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    Thanks, Perseus, I can imagine it is true. However, is there a -pter- verb for flying? Thanks!
  16. Perseas Senior Member

    No, as far as I know.

    bibax is right:
    By the way, πέτομαι makes future πτήσομαι (ptisome); cf. πτῆσις (ptisis)= flight.
  17. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    Thanks, Perseas, but then you imply that there is a verb with a pet root, but not with a pter root, don't you? Would both roots not be related?
  18. Perseas Senior Member

    Yes, ThomasK, both stem roots (πετ- , πτε-) are related and the verb for flying is πέτ-ομαι.

    Just a note about πτερόν: The stem root is πτε- (not πτερ-) and -ρον is the derivational suffix, which occurs in other words like δῶρον (present), ἄλευρον (flour), νεῦρον (nerve) etc.
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2019
  19. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    "A feather in one's cap" appears to be the correct translation in English.

    French (I make some suggestions hoping a native speaker will add more and/or correct) : plume > porte-plume (fountain pen), plumeau (duster), plumer (to "un-feather"), .... And I found quite some expressions here, but not sure they are quite common...

    I guess though that losing one's feathers is a common problem, in all languages.
  20. Penyafort

    Penyafort Senior Member

    Catalan (Catalonia), Spanish (Spain)
    In Catalan, as in some of the languages above, a ploma "feather" can also be a quill or fountain pen and, figuratedly, to writers or the art of writing.

    More original is the name given in Catalan to bats: a ratpenat (or ratapinyada) which means "rat with feathers/wings", as pena was also a word for "feather" in Old Catalan.
  21. Armas Senior Member

    Finnish has these three words for different kinds of feather:

    sulka, big feather
    höyhen, small feather
    untuva, down

    sulka hatussa "a feather in one's cap"

    höyhentää "to pluck (a bird)" also means "to beat, to trash" someone, also in sports
    mennä höyhensaarille "to go to the feather islands" means to go to sleep

    untuva is also used for soft hair, like a boy's facial hair before it becomes thick and hard
    untuvikko "chick" and metaphorically "beginner"

    Kynä today is "pen," but its older meaning gives the verb:
    kyniä "to pluck (a bird)", also used for a failed haircut or plucking of eyebrows. Metaphorically to trick someone out of money
    kana kynittävä "a hen to pluck" means "a bone to pick"
  22. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    As for me this is great: "To go to the fearther islands". Strange that you make a threefold distinction, but I suppose the reason for that is not so clear. The sulka does not turn up too much, does it? How come you add "kunä"? Is it the older word for "feather"?
  23. AndrasBP

    AndrasBP Senior Member

    Budapest, Hungary
    In Hungarian, we use the word toll for both "feather" and "pen". It's an old word of Finno-Ugric origin.

    The Hungarian name of the sport badminton is tollaslabda, literally "feathered ball".
  24. Armas Senior Member

    It seems to have meant "quill" at some point, perhaps feather too. It is the word from which the verb kyniä "to pluck (a bird)" is derived.

    Likewise in Finnish: sulkapallo "feather ball"
  25. Circunflejo Senior Member

    Castellano de Castilla
    Some other meanings in Spanish:
    • Crane's mast.
    • Shuttlecock
    • A cut of the pork. It would be part of the loin although the later is bigger.
    • Each one of the chips you get making a turning.
    • Colloquially, fart (not too used).

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