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November 9, 1994

Amateur Etymologists Beware: Even During Carnival, Dirckx Lurckx-Reply

Author Affiliations

University of Dayton Dayton, Ohio

JAMA. 1994;272(18):1409-1410. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03520180033027

In Reply.  —The chief purpose of my letter wasn't to endorse any particular etymology of the word "carnival" but to challenge the erroneous derivation of it from a phrase meaning "naval carriages."The Oxford English Dictionary (second edition),1The Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology,2Webster's Third New International Dictionary,3The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (third edition),4 and Eric Partridge's Origins: A Short Etymological Dictionary of Modern English5 concur in tracing carnival to medieval Latin carnilevaria or one of its variants (carnilevamen, carnilevare, carnilevarium), all from Latin caro meaning "flesh, meat" and levare meaning "to take away."The Oxford English Dictionary, Origins, and Albert Dauzat in his Dictionnaire Étymologique6 explicitly reject the derivation from Carne, vale! "Meat, farewell!" which is Italian, not Latin. Like most instances of folk etymology (admiral from admire, belfry from bell, cutlet from cut, and so on), it

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