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Is there an etymological link between 'wough' and 'war'?

I have just been on a journey of curiosity which started with the OED's word of the day huh; that led me to ahoo and eventually onto the obsolete wough (wrong, evil; injury, harm) and a curious quote which I cannot seem to re-find in the OED but Google provides various versions of the same text:

Ælfred tr. Boethius
Ac se godcunda foreflonc hit understent eall swi›e rihte, fleah us flince for urum dysige flæt hit on woh fare

The written form of the words might make them appear to be more closely linked than they actually are but the parallels with warfare struck me as unmistakeable, given that the objective of warfare is to cause injury and harm (i.e. wough?) to your enemies.

@DavidCrosbie: Do you have any insight you can share?


  • @AmosDuveen, as far as I can tell, the dictionaries seem to be saying that Old English adjective woh is primary and the noun woh is a derivation.

    So the nominal

    1. Wrong, evil; injury, harm.

    meaning is from adjectival

    1. Wrong, evil, bad

    which is a figurative shift from

    1. Crooked, bent.

    Moreover, Old English wyrre, werre is, according to the OED, a borrowing — very late on in the history of Old English — from North West Old French. (Like William cf Modern French Guillaume, guerre from Central Old French.)

    Yes, way, way back there's deduced to be a Germanic source for French and other languages, reconstructed as *werz, *wers. But I don't think there's any sound changes that would lead from this to _woh_. And the semantics of the words in Germanic languages (see the OED entry) centered on 'confusion' rather than 'turning away from calm'.

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