1. J.F. de TROYES Senior Member

    2- Me interesa también el origen de la palabra "zorro". He leido que viene del portugués. Así querría saber si " zorro" significa lo mismo que en español y si se conoce su etimología.

    I am also interested in the origin of another word "zorro" ( fox) which is said to come from Portuguese. I also wonder about its etymology, as it does'nt go back to Latin "vulpes".

    Gracias de antemano.
  2. Kaschiller Banned

    First, remember the fox's color - redish-brown, fire like.
    O.E. fox, from W.Gmc. *fukhs (cf. O.H.G. fuhs, O.N. foa, Goth. fauho)
    Sounds to me like the latin L. focus "hearth," in V.L. "fire."
    Romanian - foc, Italian - fuoco, Spanish - fuego.

    Now, in Romanian - zori (accent on o) - dawn ( first light) , when the Sun's color is redish...
    Could be that Zorro to be just that ( red as the sunrise )
    Red Fox

    Fox Algonquian people, transl. Fr. renards, which itself may be a transl. of an Iroquoian term meaning "red fox people." Their name for themselves is /meškwahki:-haki/ "red earths."let me know what do you think...
  3. SerinusCanaria3075

    SerinusCanaria3075 Senior Member

    United States
    México, D.F. (Spanish)
    Me parece que en portugués es femenina "a raposa", quizás hay otra forma antigua; A ver si nos ayudan nuestros irmãos brasileiros/portugueses.

    I have no idea why a lot of Spanish animals/body parts didn't keep anything that sounds or looks close to Latin, maybe there's some Arab influence but I doubt it.
    In Romanian there's also Vulpe (f.) while Italian also has Volpe (f.), both feminine which makes me think Spanish wanted a male form, just like the word Valley comes from Latin Vallis which in Romanian and Italian (vale/valle) it's feminine while masculine in Spanish (valle).

    So Ricardo LaVolpe = Ricardo el Zorro in Spanish (allenatore argentino, per coloro che amano il calcio sudamericano; attualmente col Velez)
  4. Frank06

    Frank06 Senior Member

    Nederlands / Dutch (Belgium)
    The Latin connection you give is very unlikely. If I am not wrong, PIE word-initial *p gives /p/ in Latin. But anyway, the question was about "zorro", not about the word "fox".

    Could you give more information, please?

    This is off topic.


  5. Frank06

    Frank06 Senior Member

    Nederlands / Dutch (Belgium)
    Geraldo da Cunha's Dicionário etimológico gives "zorra 'raposa velha'. Do castelhano zorra." For zorrilho (familia do mustelídos, these chaps) he also refers to Castillian.

    Three problems:
    - The dictionary doesn't dig deeper, as usual...
    - Strictly speaking, a fox does not belong to the family of the mustelidae (but that's a minor problem).
    - If this "zorro, zorrilho" is indeed the same word, then it doesn't clarify where the semantic shift happened, in Spanish or in Portuguese...

    All in all, this is not a big help :D.


  6. robbie_SWE

    robbie_SWE Senior Member

    Trilingual: Swedish, Romanian & English
    I like the way you think! :D But tracing zorro to the Romanian zori (which in English would be translated as "daybreak") is unfortunately a quite improbable connection since it's uniquely Romanian. It's a funny thought though!

    :) robbie
  7. Maroseika Moderator

    In Romanian zori looks like Slavic loan (comp. Russian заря, Slovenian zorja).
    Slavic word goes back to the same source as Ancient-Prussian sari - heat, Lith. žėrė́ti, žėriù - to sparkle and (conceivably) Greece χαροπoς - radiant (Max Vasmer).
    Slavic stem originates from PIE *g'her - to sparkle, from which maybe originated Ancient-Islandic grar, German grau (grey, grey-haired) and English grey.
    Therefore we may presume that Spanish word (or the word of the language from which it was loaned there) might designate a fox as a taboo term of the hunters.
  8. robbie_SWE

    robbie_SWE Senior Member

    Trilingual: Swedish, Romanian & English
    You're right. The Romanian zori comes from an old Slavic source (< zorĩ). Thank you though for a deeper analysis (my dictionary lacked that)! :D

    :) robbie
  9. Maroseika Moderator

    Maybe this will help you some time:
  10. Adolfo De Coene Member

    Mallorca Spain
    Belgium (English, Spanish, French, Dutch)
    En el Maria Moliner la etimología indicada es: Probablemente del portugués "zorrar", arrastrar; debió de aplicarse originariamente a una persona holgazana. En occasión se llama al mismo animal "mandra", mandría, gandul -- y substituiría a "raposa" como este nombre substituó a "vulpeja" por el afán de los campesinos de rehuir el nombre propio de este animal tenido por maléfico.
  11. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    Zorro exists in Portuguese, with the same primary meaning as in Spanish, but nowadays this word has become disused, or possibly restricted to some regions of Portugal. In modern Portuguese, we usually say raposa.

    Zorrilho is an obvious diminutive of zorro, "little fox". There are opposite gender variants for both words as well, zorra and raposo, with the same meaning (the latter is a common Portuguese family name).

    I cannot find zorrar in the dictionary. There is a word zurrar, but it's related to zurro, not zorro. Zurro is the moaning sound a donkey makes.

    Unfortunately, the online dictionary does not provide an etymology.

    The words for "fox" seem to vary considerably in the Romance languages. In French, you say... renard!
  12. toolmanUF Member

    Washington, DC
    St. Petersburg, Florida, USA (English)
    I wonder what the Arabs living in Iberia called foxes? I know that the current, most common word for fox in Arabic is ثعلب, something like "th'alalb" (which is nothing like zorro) but often the dialect spoken in Al-Andalus was quite different from the standard language.
  13. Frank06

    Frank06 Senior Member

    Nederlands / Dutch (Belgium)

    If this (and the rest of your post) has anything to do with Spanish "fox", or if you can convince us that this has anything to do with 'fox', then I am going to ask you to substantiate your claims.
    But according to established linguistic theories, and not according to a highly idiosyncratic set of ad-hoc 'rules' like "Zor, Sor, sol".

    This gives me the impression of a very idiosyncratic view upon things. This kind of juggling with letters (not even sounds) has nothing to do with historical comparative linguistics. Nothing.
    The word could have it roots in Swahili, Numanggang, Waffa or Chipaya. Those are also just possibilities. I mean, you can find (superficial) lexical similarities in any language, and with a bit of hocus-pocus, you can 'prove' anything.

    Again off-topic.

    And what does this have to do with (a) linguistics, (b) Spanish?


  14. Maroseika Moderator

    Sorry, but such a way one can easily prove anything. Phonetical relations actually are very complicated and you can't just substitute one sound with another.

    Лиса is really fox, but зверек means any small amimal being diminutive of зверь - animal.

    Also looks like Slavic loan - зырить, зреть, взор, etc.
  15. aleCcowaN Senior Member

    Castellano - Argentina
    This is exactly what I thought when I looked up the etymology of these words "zorro" and "raposo". It is said that "zorro" comes from Portuguese "zorrar", to creep; and "raposo" from "raboso" (having a tail). These are typical noa words (noa is the opposite of taboo), that is, a way to refer to some meaning indirectly, avoiding so the use of words people are afraid of. Moon and hares are the most outstanding examples of this process in Indo-European languages. The Moon can drive you mad, becoming you a madman (lunatic). Don't name her (it), avoid using the word "menes" (today surviving in "mes" in Spanish); refer to her indirectly: luna (meaning "light") in Latin, selene (meaning "the one that shines") in Greek. In German languages and their relative, Mr. English, the term "menes" survived (Moon, month, Monday).
  16. J.F. de TROYES Senior Member

    I agree with you to think of "the Arabic track", given that the word may sound like Arabic, but I didn't come across anything likely on this way.

    Me interesa aprender que el castellano tiene otra palabra que procede del latín. ¿ Se estila aún la palabra "vulpejo" ahora mismo o quiza parezca de estilo literario ?
    El occitán también usa "mandra" y me parece que para llamar al animal unas lenguas recurren a imagenes evocadores como en corso donde se usa "a volpe", pero también " a codilonga" o "a mammicara" por una razón o por otra como las que dicéis unos de vosotros.

    Not totally, зверек being related to the same P.I.E root *WeLF the Latin "vulpes" comes from with another meaning though.

    Without being sure I tend to go by what yiu say except for the doubtful Portuguse etymology " zorrar " : see Outsider before (#11 ) ; I coud'nt find out this verb either.
  17. aleCcowaN Senior Member

    Castellano - Argentina
    I agree, but the etymologies say "from ancient Portuguese 'zorrar' ", not modern Portuguese.

    The diversity of terms for vulpes in Romance languages convinced me that bumping into a fox was regarded as very very bad luck.
  18. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    The following quote is from the entry for zorra in J. P. Machado's Dicionário Etimológico da Língua Portuguesa, 3rd. ed., 1977. "s. 1 Talvez deverbal de zorrar. O sentido primitivo de zorra2, isto é, de «raposa» (que não sei até que ponto se relaciona com zorrar e com zorra1) terá sido o de «pessoa folgazã» (donde zorra, na acepção de «prostituta»), que continua vivo e, popularmente, designa ainda, em tom sarcástico ou depreciativo, a «raposa»."

    He traces zorro back to zorra. As for the verb zorrar, which I did not find in the other dictionaries I consulted, he says it's little used, and probably an onomatopoeia for the sound made by something dragging itself (perhaps "crawling" is a better translation).
  19. Asgaard Member

    usa, english
    Here is what I've found in a mini Basque-English (Euskara- Ingelesa) dictionary :

    Zoro = Mad, Crazy, Fool, Insane, Lunatic
    Zorri = Louse

    Zorro =
    1. Bag, Pouch, Sack, Saddlebag, Satchel ( here I don't see any connection with Spanish Zorro (Fox) - unless the Basques used to make bags out of Fox's skin???) 2. Case,Sheath
    3.Paunch , Potbelly
    ??? ( from a different root ? ... no idea here.)

    Zorrotz =
    1. Sharp, Keen, Pointed
    2. Acute, Severe
    3. Shrewed, Witty, Sagacious !( attributes of foxes? "sly like a fox")
    4. Exacting, Strict

    Azeri = Fox

    Zoritaxar - bad luck, misfortune, disgrace, mischance
    Zoritxarrez - unfortunately
    Zoritxarreko - ill fated, unlucky, unfortunate, unhappy, miserable, wretched

    from etymonline.com -under etymology of craze:
    .... "Phrase crazy like a fox recorded from 1935".
    Locus classicus of the phrase " Crazy like a fox" is it's use as a book title by the US humorist SJ Perelman in 1944.

    See also Foxes with Rabies, behavior patterns.

    The etymology of Zorra(o) could be from Soura(gk) - tail, just like english Fox (PIE puk- tail), Spanish Raposa( Raboso - having a tail), Lithuanian Uodegis "fox," from uodega "tail").

    Is it possible that foxes with rabies (acting crazy) were called, once upon a time , Zorras?
    Or vice versa, crazy people were called Zorras after Zorra, the Crazy fox?

    Also founded Zurliu (Romanian)
    ZURLÍU, -ÍE, zurlii, adj. (Fam.) Zvăpăiat, nebunatic; smintit. – Cf. tc. z o r l u. - crazy

    Here the root is Proto Altaic:
    crazy, mad
    Turkic: Jul- Mongolian: Dulei -Tungus-Manchu: dulbu - Korean: tor

    It is interesting to follow this route: TAIL -> FOX -> CRAZY.

    Good Day,
  20. jo azer New Member

    Here we can go a little beyond the apparent etymology,since most words come from ''actions or experiences''that are expressed with sounds and even numbers..let us analyse from the point of view of a shepherd..foxes usually attack sheep at dawn..when they strike they make havoc ..zorra..to deviate dogs or the shepherds attention,she also uses its tale as well to trick the eye sight..lifts it to be seen in one place and lowers to strike in another..Rommel the desert fox as a example..the fox tale was also used around ladies necks to show the scent of mystery but it also used by the shaman to foresee, since the fox is maybe the only animal that plans its strike so first she studies the victim sometimes for days..a tail ..rabo..and it also transmits rabies..rabioso..angry,ferocious,lost mind etc a tale..with very rich meanings..
  21. Penyafort

    Penyafort Senior Member

    Catalan (Catalonia), Spanish (Spain)
    The fox has never been an animal loved by farmers. Just like with taboos, nouns used for unwanted things change quite a lot. The Latin name, vulpes, is preserved in the Eastern Romania (Italian volpe, Romanian vulpe), but in Western Romania, while first adopted in literature, usually from the diminutive vulpecula/vulpeculus (Old Spanish vulpeja, Old French goupil, Old Portuguese golpelha, Old Catalan volp or volpell, etc), people adopted a new name from different sources. The French renard and the Catalan guineu come from the old Germanic names Reginhart and Winihild. The rabosa/raposa form, found all over Iberia, probably comes from tail "rapum", as "the tailed-one", the variant with -p- being explained as influenced by the many words relate to "thief, robbery" started with rap-.

    As for the word that would become the most used in modern Spanish, zorra/zorro, the origin keeps being far from clear. As it's been said, some good etymologists like Coromines suggested a deviated adjectival meaning of a supposed verb zorrar, with the original meaning being "lazy, that spends time prowling about". It sounds unlikely to me, although the fact that the word for the fox in Occitan is mandra, word also associated with laziness (Catalan mandra, Aragonese mandria), might help corroborate it. It is true that the sound of the word makes it look pre-Roman, from a Basco-Iberian source. But deriving it from the Old Basque azebari looks extremely complicated, and the fact that the word started to be used in the 15th century makes it unlikely too.
  22. jo azer New Member

    Most interesting approach..i do think that most of the meanings related to animals,their characters or images are given by those that perhaps live in a conflicting way with these beings..as for zorro..i do have a different idea then Coromines, because there are a lot of aspects to be properly investigated..as an example..zorrillo,masked racoon, or related to the eyes ..come ojos in spanish los ojos as pronounced sounds like zorros..which can lead to the meaning..to see in a clever tricky manner when related to foxes,racoons, North African muishond etc but it has an eastern origin like in turkish for,trouble,difficult,rage,violent or in persian for force..it is also used in portuguese for trouble,confusion,chaos..but as seen in an animal's attitude we can perceive its practical meaning..these creatures are fast,smart and create sometimes uncontrolled havoc,particularly when they enter a man owned chicken's farm..they strike as many chickens possible without eating them, as if they wanted to destroy this more or less man made creature..
  23. Cenzontle

    Cenzontle Senior Member

    English, U.S.
    For Spanish etymologies I always consult Corominas/Coromines first. He is usually honest about saying "We just don't know." But I question the "lazy" connection.
    Coromin@s cites the frequent name changes of that animal (vulpeja > raposa > zorra), explaining
    But "lazy"? When I search for " * as a fox", I get sly, cunning, wily, and crafty, but not lazy. (See Asgaard's "Zorrotz", #19 above.)
    When I search (Ngram Viewer) for " * como un zorro" I get only "astuto como un zorro".
  24. jo azer New Member

    Now this is basically what happens when scholars get too attached to their intellectual sources, they rarely go for the origins,because that requires another kind of science..mathematics..please allow me to give an example,in ancient languages there is a kind of source called..one plus one equal to three..most words are created as a combination of polarities,like male female and neutral,electron proton and neutron and so on.. so zorro has nothing to do with lazy,but precisely the opposite,attentive,alert,capable of turning the events by a surprising move.. that requires eyes which are the mirrors of body chemistry..take a close look to vul/peja separate and analyse individually their meanings..you might be surprised..but for sure has nothing to do with lazyness..
  25. danielstan Senior Member

    Romanian - Romania
    Romanian zori < Slavic zorĭ (dexonline)

    Romanian vulpe, Italian volpe < Lat. vulpem (accusative of vulpis)
    (Latin vulpes is the plural of vulpis)

    As a general rule (with very few exceptions) the Romance languages have inherited the accusative form of Latin names.
    One example:
    Latin nox ("night")/accusative noctem > Rom. noapte, It. notte, Fr. nuit, Sp. noche
    Compare with the phonetic rule for the Latin group ct in:
    Latin octo > Rom. opt, It. otto, Fr. huit, Sp. ocho
  26. djara

    djara Senior Member

    Sousse, Tunisia
    Tunisia Arabic
    No link with Arabic. The Arabic ZRR root only points to buttons and buttoning.
    Yes it was different because it borrowed considerably from the Iberian dialects as well as from the Berber (Amazigh) languages of North Africa. Many Andalusians were ethnic Berbers not Arabs. As far as I know, the words for fox in Amazigh are not related to zorro.
  27. jo azer New Member

    Zorro is actually a name used for a racoon which is a close relative of the fox..
  28. Cenzontle

    Cenzontle Senior Member

    English, U.S.
    If by "raccoon" you mean the North American mammal Procyon lotor,
    the corresponding Spanish Wikipedia article shows that it is indeed sometimes called "zorra manglera"—
    as well as "mapache", "mapache boreal", "racuna", and "gato manglatero". In addition I've seen a dictionary entry that calls it "oso lavador".
    According to the Google Ngram Viewer, the frequency of "mapache" (of Nahuatl origin) ranges from 60 to 90 times that of the next runner-up, "racuna".
    Foxes of course belong to the family Canidae, while raccoons belong to the family Procyonidae, which includes coatis, kinkajous, and—I learned today—olinguitos.
    You'll remember the olinguito became a newly described species in 2013.
    The raccoon has some visual similarity to the fox: both have a somewhat triangular face.
  29. jo azer New Member

    Well,in behaviourism though from a different genetical branch,raccoons have much more in common with foxes than it appears,like in a way cheetahs have genetical differences with other felids but so much in common as well.. a very interesting fact is the way humans view them in a sociological manner comparing some of these animals to human attitude..tricky like a fox..or thief like a racoon etc which results many times in stigma like mapache,racoon,thief etc to the Dineh people known as apache...so as you can see its quite interesting finding out deeply what humans see and understand in animals and comparing to their own behaviour..
  30. jo azer New Member

    By the way after reading your pointing out on olinguitos,i remembered what some friends in Ecuador use to say about a local individual that had a mysterious behaviour..el es un olinguito,neblinoso...like saying..he is not a person with a visible character..strangely,it is officially interpreted as that olinguitos live in a area with mist..

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