From sophisticated elegance to evil incarnate, few colors conjure up such strong images as black. The origin of the word black stretches back to a group of tribes known as the Proto-Indo-Europeans. According to etymologists, these ancient groups likely used the rather un-elegant sounding word bhleg- to mean burn or gleam.
Etymology Of Black
As cultures evolved, bhleg- evolved as well. While it retained its original meaning, the word became phlegein in Greek and flagrare in Latin. However, the word started to take the road to its modern form through the English mother tongue, Proto-Germanic. These tribes, who inhabited Europe during the first millennium BCE, used the term blak-.
Old English speakers, the Anglo-Saxons, transformed the word into blaec and began to associate it directly with the color. At the same time, they were also using the word blac to mean white or bright. The words were so similar that translators are sometimes left scratching their heads as they try to determine whether the writer was describing something that was black or white.
Origin Of The Word Black Included Use A Verb And Noun, Too
Black was also used as a verb. For example, one 16th century text reads, “The paper will be blacked by smoke.” Around this time, the English people began to use it as a noun to describe professional mourners or a person with dark skin.
More What's Behind the Color Name
Feature Image Credit: Photo by Banter Snaps on Unsplash
So when did the word black become a word mocked by Europeans and others? Before, during or after the Atlantic Slave Trade? It is disgusting that the word Black is a by-word, and your article doesn’t address that either.
Do you have sources for this information? It’s all correct, as far as I know. I’m just curious about where you got the knowledge from.
I have an extensive library of color books (see books about color for the list) and most of this information came from those. I did have a very fastidious intern who confirmed the information for this and many other articles. She made a list of references but when she left we mistakenly deleted the files when setting up the next intern. I could probably figure it out again but just have never taken the time. Sorry to not be able to be more specific but am confident the information is correct.
The Spanish Inquisition when the Roman Catholic Church gave a king in the 1500s a bull or something to that effect to remove the black jews from Spain and Portugal to Sao Thomas island which was before the Atlantic Slave Trade. You all wrote the history and captured the people for the sake of slavery. The Roman Catholic Church.
Wow, that’s awesome, thanks for sharing and researching the origins of the word black. I’ve always wondered about it.
Thanks for your awesome comment, Gibby. You made my day that much more sensational!