Sunday, 15 March 2015

Word of the day

Hamsteren v., to hoard. Discovered on Wednesday while flipping through a Dutch/English dictionary in Oxfam, it just leapt out at me.


  1. that's intriguing. Related to the creature and their pouchy cheeks, or completely coincidental?

  2. I did look into the matter for the purpose of the post and I'm fairly sure that the verb is derived from the noun. The first etymology that google throws up is from Old High German hamustro, meaning corn weevil. Not very convincing, in my opinion. Though perhaps it ties in with another, the far more ancient Avestan hamaestar, meaning oppressor. It's hard to imagine a less oppressive creature really, but the idea is they perhaps earned the name through the devastation they wrought on crops. I don't know if either of these had a hand in the formulation of the Proto Indo European *kam-, meaning a kind of rodent.

    Anyway, the best thing I came away with from all this (from pawnation's highly informative post Why Are Hamsters Called Hamsters?) was that in Syria (whence most modern hamsters originate) they were known in Arabic as Mr Saddlebags.