föstudagur, nóvember 03, 2006

happy go-lucky

The Icelandic word for luck is heppi and for lucky is heppinn. That latter word always sounded a lot like "happy" to me, so I did some research the other day. Indeed, the English word happy comes out of the older word hap, which means luck or fortune (think haphazard). So happy used to mean lucky in English, and still does in Icelandic.

Which brings us to silly. Silly comes out of the Old English gesælig, which did mean happy. Its Old Norse brother, sæll, also meant happy back in the day. But today in Icelandic it means sainted or blessed and it's the greeting of choice among the old men who congregate every day in the outdoor hot tubs. I guess the geothermal hot water makes us both happy and lucky.


Blogger megabuster said...

I would say that sæll is kind of a mixture of happy and satisfied, leaning more though to happy. I never think of sæll as "sainted". (Maybe because I have never heard that word before)

Blogger JB said...

Egill: Thanks! Perhaps I am leaning on Tölvuorðabók just a little too much and that's what it gives for "sæll". At least blessaður certainly translates as "blessed".


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