Once common in the central part of the Italian peninsula, the Etruscan language as well as the people who spoke it, are said to have disappeared without trace. Is it only an overstatement or can we really say that no trace of the Etruscan language can be found in modern Italian?

ps - After learning here that several different languages are spoken in Italy, in the 21st century, I'm not quite sure what you guys mean by the "Italian Language". What I mean, however, is the language spoken by the president or prime minister when they address the nation on TV.

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    I don't know about the president etc., but there is an agreed-on notion of what standard Italian, mostly derived from Florentine dialect, is.
    – DaG
    Jan 15 '17 at 8:49
  • 1
    At least, it's present in some toponyms and its derivatives, such as "Perugia" and "perugini".
    – Charo
    Jan 15 '17 at 9:13
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    According to this article the word satellite comes from Etruscan (via Latin).
    – egreg
    Jan 15 '17 at 9:59
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    More a curiosity than an answer: at one time people used to believe that the phonetic phenomenon by which some consonants are aspirated in Tuscan dialects, and especially /k/ and /g/, was a remnant of Etruscan phonology, but this thesis is now mostly abandoned. See something here.
    – DaG
    Jan 15 '17 at 10:49

We must necessarily consider that any Italian word derived from Etruscan, must have done so by way of Latin, even though it is uncertain whether those Latin words did really derive from Etruscan.

Here are some words I found in standard etymological dictionaries of the Latin language which are supposed to have come from Etruscan. (vd. bibliography):

  • Autunno ("autumn") from lat. autumnus (vd. WH I 88, EM 37, dV 64)
  • Cerimonia ( "ceremony") from lat. caerimonia (probably folk etymology, vd. WH I 134, EM 84, dV 81)
  • Calcagno ("heel") from lat. calx (vd. WH I 144, EM 88-89 dV 86);
  • Cedro ("cedar") from lat. citrus (vd. WH I 223, EM 124 dV 116 ["there may have been an Etruscan intermediate between Greek κέδρος and Latin"]);
  • Cuneo ("wedge") from lat. cuneus (vd. WH I 308, EM 157 [Etruscan rendering from the Greek γώνιος], dV 154);
  • Fatuo ("fatuous") from lat. fatuus (vd. WH I 464, EM 220, dV 205 [which purpose a direct derivation from etr. for, "say"]);
  • Aruspice ("haruspex") from lat. Haruspex (vd. WH I 635, EM 289-290, dV 280);
  • Idi ("ides") from lat. idus (according to Varro, vd. WH I 669, EM 305 dV 294-295);
  • Giovane ("young") from lat. iuvenis (vd. WH I 735-736, EM 331, dV 317-318);
  • Merce ("merchandise") from lat. merx (vd. WH II 78-79, EM 400, dV 376);
  • Popolo ("people") from lat. populus (doubtful, maybe from the ancient Etruscan city of Populonia, vd. WH II 339, EM 521-522, dV 480);
  • Scurrile ("scurrilous") from lat. scurra (doubtful, vd. WH II 502, EM 606, dV 548);
  • Sibilo ("hiss") from lat. sibilus (vd. WH II 53I-532, EM 622, dV 561);
  • Socio ("associate") from lat. socius (vd. WH II 551, EM 631, dV 569-570);
  • Urina ("urine") from lat. urina (vd. WH II 840, EM 755, dV 644);
  • Utero ("uterus") from lat. uter (vd. WH II 845, EM 757, dV 647).

As you can see, some of these words are used even in English.


  • A. Walde - J.B. Hoffmann, Lateinisches Etymologisches Wörterbuch, Heidelberg, 1938-1954 (WH);

  • A. Ernout - A. Meillet, Dictionnaire etymologique de la langue latine, Paris 2001 (EM);

  • M. DeVaan, Etymological Dictionary of Latin and the Other Italic Languages, Leiden-Boston 2008 (dV).

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    The etymology of most of these words can also be checked using etymonline.com. Sometimes you have to look for a derivative that is used in English, such as "calcaneus" or "cuneiform".
    – Charo
    Jan 15 '17 at 11:16
  • "even in English" as well as in Portuguese and Spanish.
    – Centaurus
    Jan 15 '17 at 11:17
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    it is "sibilo" not "sibilio". Could you fix? Jan 15 '17 at 15:49
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    To be pedantic: the word sibilio exists too, but I agree it is too specific to translate “hiss”.
    – DaG
    Jan 15 '17 at 21:01

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