Senior Member
English - England
Hello everyone,

How would you say nuthatch in your language?
Eurasian nuthatch - Wikipedia

In Italian, I believe that it is "picchio muratore" (m) (picchio = woodpecker : muratore = bricklayer).
In French, I believe that it is "sittelle" (f).

I wonder if the word for "nuthatch" in any other languages is related to the word for "woodpecker"?

Thank you everyone in advance :)
  • Penyafort

    Senior Member
    Catalan (Catalonia), Spanish (Spain)
    I wonder if the word for "nuthatch" in any other languages is related to the word for "woodpecker"?

    In Catalan, kind of, because it is called pica-soques blau, which literally means "blue trunkpecker". (However, woodpeckers are called picots or pigots, from a Latin form related to pecking plus a suffix)

    Regionally, it is also called puja-soques blau "blue trunkclimber", which would be more related in meaning to the Spanish trepador azul.
    In Greek the bird is called «σφυριχτής» [sfi.ɾiˈxtis] (masc.) --> lit. whistler, from «σφυρίχτρα» [sfiˈɾix.tra] (fem.) --> whistle < ByzGr v. «σφυρίζω» sphyrízō --> to whistle, from the Classical v. «συρίζω» sŭrízō --> to whistle, hiss, blow the syrinx, contaminated with the fem. «σφῦρα» sphûra --> hammer, ultimately from the feminine «σῦριγξ» sûrinks --> a kind of flute, pipe-like object, a substrate word; the Armenian սրինգ (sring), reed, panpipe comes from the same source.

    Regionally, it goes by the names of i) «σφυριχτάρι» [sfi.ɾiˈxta.ɾi] (neut.), which is «σφυριχτής» in its diminutive form (little-whistler), or ii) «δενδροτσοπανάκος» [ðen.ðrɔ.ʦ͡ɔ.paˈna.kɔs] (masc.) --> little-shepherd-in-the-trees, probably because its voice resembles the shepherd's whistle to command the flock.

    In Ancient Greek, the bird was known as «σίττη» síttē (fem.), an onomatopoeia of the sound of the bird's calling: «σίττᾱ» síttā, or «σίττη» síttē, or «ψύττᾱ» psúttā. Latin borrowed the Greek word, hence the scientific name of the bird Sitta europaea.
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    Polish kowalik means "a little blacksmith". BTW, didn't σιττη use to mean "a woodpecker-like bird", as I read in Polish wikipedia?
    In Greek? Σίττη/σίττᾱ are clearly onomatopoeias, ψύττα, βίττα, ψίττα according to Beekes:
    Beekes said:
    Formerly assumed to be a foreign word of Oriental origin..
    Nowadays it's considered an onomatopoeia too, a blanket-term used for naming various birds, e.g: σίττᾱ, sitta europaea, βίττακος (bíttăkŏs)/ψίττακος (psíttăkŏs)/ψιττάκη (psĭttắkē), psittacopasserae etc.

    Woodpecker in Ancient Greek was «Δρυοκολάπτης» Drŭŏkŏlắptēs (masc.), a compound = oblique «δρυο-» drŭŏ- as first member in compounds < 3rd declension feminine noun «δρῦς/δρυός» drûs (nom. sing.)/drŭós (gen. sing.) --> tree, later, oak-tree (PIE *doru- tree cf Skt. द्रु (dru), tree, Proto-Germanic *trewą > Eng. tree) + Classical v. «κολάπτω» kŏlắptō --> to peck (of birds), strike, carve, engrave (possibly from PIE *kelh₂- with cognate the Proto-Slavic *kolti > Rus. колоть, BCMS клати/klati).