Thursday, April 5, 2018

How do you roll?

How do you roll?

The Indo-European word meaning to roll is *wel-. It was constructed by etymologists based on evidence from Sanskrit, Greek, Lithuanian, Old Church Slavonic, Latin, Old Irish, Old High German, Old English, & more.

Its offspring are legion. Here is a small sampling:

revolve to roll back

devolveto roll down

involve to roll into

evolveto unroll

revolt — to roll over

convoluted to roll together 

volume — originally a roll of parchment containing writing 

whelk — a marine snail with a spiraling (rolling) shell

willow — a tree — imagine a storybook weeping willow, with branches that enclose anyone standing near the trunk, foliage that rolls around that person

wallow — originally, a disturbed spot in the soil where some animal had rolled around

wallet — originally a bag or knapsack holding one’s bedroll

waltz — in1825 the waltz was considered a riotous and indecent German dance involving the gentlemen seizing the ladies around their waists — involving not only a circular rolling pattern on the dance floor, but the nimble rolling of the ball of the foot.

Comment or not, depending on how you roll.

My thanks go out to this week’s sources: Merriam Webster, Collins Dictionary, Wordnik, & Etymonline.


  1. Oh, I love that willow-wallow connection. I never knew that! And waltzing is just rolling? No wonder the Puritans disapproved.

    1. Ah, Miss Allen, there were many rolling-related activities the Puritans eschewed! Thanks for coming by.