hist-brewing: mugwort etymology

Jeff Renner nerenner at umich.edu
Wed Dec 22 06:59:14 PST 1999

Someone recently posted here that the name mugwort indicated its obvious
use in mugs of ale.  I'm afraid that's folk etymolgy.  The "mug" derives
from a word for a fly or midge, not a drinking vessel.

 From the wopnderful Gernot Katzer's Spice Pages
http://www-ang.kfunigraz.ac.at/~katzer/engl/index.html :

The genus is named in honour of the Greek goddess of hunting, Artemis, to
whom some members of the genus were sacred.

English "mugwort" contains an element mu- meaning "fly, bug"; cf. Greek
myía, Russian moska and German Mücke "mosquito". The Indo-European stem,
MU-, is obviously onomatopoetic in origin.

 From OED:

[repr. WGer. *muggiwurti, f. *muggjo- fly, midge + *wurti- plant, wort; the
i of the first element seems to have disappeared before the period of
umlaut. ]

And just in case you're wondering if mug (cup) comes from a similar root
and mugwort really did get its name from being used in mugs via some kind
of convergent etymoloty:

[Of unknown origin: cogn. w. LG. mokke, mukke mug, Norw. mugga, mugge `an
open can or jug, esp. for warm drinks' (Aasen), Sw. mugg mug, Norm. dial.
moque cup, Guernsey mogue. ]


Jeff Renner in Ann Arbor, Michigan USA, c/o nerenner at umich.edu
"One never knows, do one?"  Fats Waller, American Musician, 1904-1943. 

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