Portuguese: etymology of pasta as bag, case etc.

Discussion in 'Etymology, History of languages, and Linguistics (EHL)' started by chrysalid, Nov 11, 2013.

  1. chrysalid Member

    Ankara, Turkey

    Does anyone have an idea about the etymology of the Portuguese word "pasta" meaning briefcase, schoolbag and the like? I could not find it online or in etymology dictionaries I have.

    Thanks in advance.
  2. SofiaB Senior Member

    English Asia
    Pasta Do grego Paste, pirão.
    Fonte: http://www.dicionarioetimologico.co...do?hidArtigo=82A49BA09722768883579F486DD4105F
    (latim pasta, -ae)
    substantivo feminino
    1. Material que pode ser facilmente moldado ou deformado, obtido com uma substância sólida misturada com uma substância líquida. = MASSA
    2. Mistura de sólidos e líquidos.
    3. Porção de ouro, prata ou outro metal, fundido e por trabalhar.
    4. Obra de papelão, couro, etc. semelhante à capa de um livro, que serve para guardar papéis.
    5. Mala fina, pequena e resistente, usada para transporte de documentos, livros e afins (ex.: pasta de executivo).
    6. [Figurado] Cargo de ministro de Estado. = MINISTÉRIO
    7. [Informática] Divisão de um disco que pode conter ficheiros, passível de ser subdividida. = DIRECTORIA, DIRECTÓRIO
    8. [Informal] Dinheiro.
    9. [Popular] Pessoa sem préstimo, inútil, inerte, estúpida.
    10. [Portugal: Minho] [Construção] Processo de construção tradicional feita com lajes verticais e estreitas de granito colocadas lado a lado, usado sobretudo em muros.

    pasta de dentes
    • Substância pastosa que serve para fazer a higiene dos dentes e da boca. = DENTÍFRICO

    # 5 is the definition you seek.
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2013
  3. berndf Moderator

    German (Germany)
  4. SofiaB Senior Member

    English Asia
    Yes but if you look at #5 case is also the meaning of the same word and does not show a different etymology.
    So it looks like paste Greek and pasta Latin are the origins of the word which has several meanings.
  5. chrysalid Member

    Ankara, Turkey
    Yes I actually meant that. And even if it's from the latin word pasta, I'm curious how it came to mean briefcase as well.
  6. berndf Moderator

    German (Germany)
    You added a quote form an ordinary dictionary to your original quote from an etymological dictionary. That tells us nothing, not even if those are the same words or if they are two different words that only happen to be spelled the same.
  7. Cossue

    Cossue Member

    Galician & Spanish
    Well I'm Galician, and here 'as pastas dun libro' are the 'covers of a book'... So the semantic evolution in Portuguese could have been something like pulp/paste -> object made of paste -> covers (of a book, etc, because they are made of paste) -> briefcase?
  8. XiaoRoel

    XiaoRoel Senior Member

    Vigo (Galiza)
    galego, español
    That's all right.
  9. marrish

    marrish Senior Member

    اُردو Urdu
    It can't be related but the coincidence is funny: In Urdu a bag is called basta.
  10. sotos Senior Member

    The connection looks very remote. More plausible from the Gr. βαστάζω (hold, carry) http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text:1999.04.0057:entry=basta/zw from which we have several words related to bags: βαστάγιον, βάσταγμα etc. In modern Gr. βασταγή, the act of holding or carrying something.
  11. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    None of which actually means "bag". Besides, the Greek words have b- while the Portuguese word has p-.
  12. XiaoRoel

    XiaoRoel Senior Member

    Vigo (Galiza)
    galego, español
    Lat. pasta é empréstimo tardío (época imperial) do grego πάστη ,a palavra latina é patrimonial nas línguas românicas (cf. M.L. 6723) e também passou ao irl. paist el germ. Paste.
  13. chrysalid Member

    Ankara, Turkey
    That could be from Portuguese. You might know that there are some Portuguese loanwords in Hindi and Urdu like almari (armário) and kamra (câmara).

    Well you can never guess the semantic evolutions but that seems quite remote :)

    Do you know if there are any similar examples in Portuguese? I mean Greek initial "β" becoming a "p"

    Yes and thanks but still, we are trying to understand how that came to mean a briefcase, if that's the same word.

    Thank you all for answering. Let's see if we'll have other ideas.
  14. XiaoRoel

    XiaoRoel Senior Member

    Vigo (Galiza)
    galego, español
    Pasta > pasta de papel > pasta dura para cubiertas de libros > pasta (briefcase, folder) (cf. Houaiss).
  15. إسكندراني

    إسكندراني Senior Member

    أرض الأنجل
    عربي (مصر)ـ | en (gb)
    Actually if it's present in Urdu it might be related to the Arabic بسطة 'basTah' which is the kind of sheet a roaming trader carries and then spreads out (بسط) on the floor to sell. But I thought it was only dialectal, sound as its etymology may be.
  16. marrish

    marrish Senior Member

    اُردو Urdu
    Re. Urdu which I perhaps unluckily shared, chrysalid and iskandaraani, I know there are lots of words from Portuguese in Urdu but despite the similarity I think it is not related to Portuguese. As I said it seems a funny coincidence. Normally a change from b- to p- would pose no problem to imagine. Still, I would go for Persian etymology for it (bastah= closed) but again, I am not sure of it. In any case, it is interesting that starting from Portuguese, we can see similarities in close meanings between such remote languages. As for the Arabic scenario, I am sure Urdu would have preserved the orthography, that is ط
  17. halogoz New Member


    You must look at the etymology of the related "paste" -

    ORIGIN late Middle English: from Old French, from late Latin pasta ‘medicinal preparation in the shape of a small square,’ probably from Greek pastē, (plural) pasta ‘barley porridge,’ from pastos ‘sprinkled.’

    This semantic relation reveals the etymology of the Portugese "pasta" meaning briefcase (which is clearly in the shape).

    I have read this discussion thread: I do not see the means to shoot down ideas. Ideas lead to truth.


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