Re: [tied] Needfire
- Thanks. "Knead" sounded too clever, and one of the rules of etymology that I've observed is that the more clever the explanation, the less likely it is to be true.David Fickett-WilbarIn a message dated 2/19/2013 11:36:03 A.M. Eastern Standard Time, bm.brian@... writes:
At 11:26:59 AM on Tuesday, February 19, 2013, ceiserith@... wrote:
> I'm not finding a reliable etymology for "needfire" in any
> of my sources or on-line. I've found two, the first being
> the obvious, with "need" meaning "need," and the second
> relating it to "knead," as in a fire created by friction.
I don't know whether you have access to the on-line OED; its
entry for is from September 2003. In case you
haven't, the etymology given is the obvious one. The rest
of the etymological note reads as follows:
Compare German Notfeuer, †Nothfeuer in senses 2 and 3.
With sense 2 compare also Middle Low German nōtvūr (German
regional (Low German) Notfüer), Middle High German
nōtviur; compare also Norwegian (Nynorsk) naudeld,
(Bokmål) naudeld, naueld, nødeld, etc., Swedish
(regional) nödeld, (see eld n.1), and Scottish Gaelic
teine-éigin (< teine fire + éigin force, necessity). With
sense 3 compare also Old Saxon niedfyr, niedfeor, neidfyr,
It is unclear whether the semantic parallels for senses 3
and, more strikingly, sense 2 should be taken as
indicating that the English word is much earlier than its
earliest attestations would suggest, or whether instead in
these senses it is in fact a calque on a form in another
language. Sense 1 does not appear to be attested outside
Sense †1: Sc. Spontaneous combustion. In early use only in
to take needfire . Also fig. Obs.
Sense 2: Fire obtained from dry wood by means of violent
friction, formerly credited with various magical
properties, esp. in protecting cattle from disease.
Sense 3: A beacon, a bonfire.