mercredi 6 juillet 2011

Amber Names

There is no other stone in the gem world which would have so many names in different languages and so many meanings thanks to its origin, natural qualities, trade and general history.

The Greek word ηλεκτρον (electron) was connected to the Sun God, one of whose titles was Elector or the Awakener. The modern terms "electricity" and "electron" derive from the Greek word for amber and come from William Gilbert's research showing that amber could attract other substances.

The English word amber derives from the Arabic anbar, through Medieval Latin ambar and Old French ambre. The word originally referred to a precious oil derived from the Sperm whale. The sense was extended to fossil resin circa 1400, and this became the main sense as the use of ambergris waned. The two substances were confused because they both were found washed up on beaches. The word "ambar" was brought to Europe by the Crusaders.

“Amber” is mainly a female name of French origin, in contemporary language meaning “precious jewel” or “amber colored”.

The German word Bernstein and the Polish bursztyn both mean “burning stone”. They originate from natural quality of amber to burn.

In Finnish (meripihka)and Estonian (merevaik) languages amber stands for “sea stone”. The Lithuanians often name amber baltas referring to their native Baltic sea from where amber nuggets are washed away in abundance.

In Scandinavian languages, like in Danish rav, derives from such suspicious definitions as “thief” or “robber”. The name was given to amber for its electrostatic ability to attract, thus “steal”, light pieces.

The Russian янтарь (“yantar’”) emerged from Lithuanian gintaras meaning “protection against all diseases”, which emphasises healing qualities of amber.   

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