How did the word “sneak” appear and why was it used to be pronounced with respect?

How did the word “sneak” appear and why was it used to be pronounced with respect?

Categories: History

It just so happens that the word “sneak” is one of the first offensive words we encounter in childhood. Today it is gradually being forgotten, being replaced by the word “informer”, which came from the criminal environment. Despite this, it can still be heard among children and, very rarely, from adults. It turns out that this word has an interesting history and once did not have a negative connotation.

How did the word “sneak” appear and why was it used to be pronounced with respect?

When asked about the origin of the word “sneak,” many will simply shrug their shoulders. The most erudite will assume that it is connected with the word “trouble.” However, it is not. The word "yabeda", meaning an informer, was borrowed from the Scandinavians during the times of Ancient Rus'. It comes from the Old Norse "embaetti", meaning "office" or "office".

How did the word “sneak” appear and why was it used to be pronounced with respect?

In German there is also a word derived from it - “ammt”, which means “office”. If you carefully examine other European languages, you can find other examples. True, the original word is usually so distorted that only a professor of philology can recognize the borrowing.

The word “sneak” also bears little resemblance to the original. In the Middle Ages they said “yabetnik”, and this word meant an official or judge. In written documents it first appears in the Novgorod Chronicle, dating back to 1218. For several centuries, when saying “yabetnik” or “yabeta,” our ancestors meant an official, respected person.

How did the word “sneak” appear and why was it used to be pronounced with respect?

Everything changed in the 16th century, when informers began to be called yabetniks, and the word acquired a very negative connotation. Scientists believe that it was at this time that the letter “t” was replaced in the word with the “d” we are all familiar with.

The word “fiscal”, which also means an informer, has a similar story. Back in the 18th century, this was the name given to civil and church officials, inspectors, financial auditors, and overseers. The word was borrowed from Latin, where fiscalis means “government” and fiscus means “cash drawer”.

How did the word “sneak” appear and why was it used to be pronounced with respect?

People in these positions of responsibility often generated negative emotions due to their activities. They identified abuses, theft and corruption, reporting them to their superiors. The word "fiscal" first began to be used in a negative way in church schools, and later it became a common offensive definition of a person.

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