in Language

Etymology at the snack table

I overheard the word ‘denigrate’ (syn: disparage, slander, ‘blacken’) while having an afternoon snack with the wife and kid, and before I knew it I was thinking that the Latin adjective niger, nigra, nigrum must have the suffix -ger, meaning ‘bringing’ or ‘bearing.’ If so, then it should mean that the thing described bears no color or no discernible detail (as if from NE- + -GER), which is why niger can refer to gloom and death. Near as I can tell the etymology is considered gloomy itself, but has been presumed linked to the root nec-, familiar from the Greek root for death.

Can you make out the details in this picture?


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