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Attestation: Pa 0.3 (eluveitie) (1)
Language: Etruscan
Word Type: proper noun
Semantic Field: personal name
Grammatical Categories: nom. masc.

Morphemic Analysis: el-u-eit-(i)i̯-e
Phonemic Analysis: /eluφei̯t(i)e/ or /eluei̯t(i)e/
Meaning: 'Eluveitie'


Etruscan masculine personal name in -ie, borrowed from Celtic. The generally accepted analysis of the Celtic base is *elu̯eit(i)i̯os or *eluφeit(i)i̯os 'Helvetian' (Vitali 1998: 262 f., Vitali & Kaenel 2000: 115 f.). The name was borrowed into Etruscan in the vocative *elu̯/u(φ)eit(i)i̯e (Stifter 2013: 49–52, Salomon 2020: 384–386). It is the oldest attestation of the ethnonym *elu̯ēt(i)i̯ī < *pelh₁u-pei̯Ht-(i)i̯o- 'those of much land' or 'many pastures' (Thurneysen 1923: 11 f.), Latinised heluetiī. The form provides evidence for the dating of the monophthongisation of /ei/ > /ē/ in the second element, and possibly of the loss of /p/: ‹v› could theoretically be merely a hiatus marker, but may well reflect the etymological /p/ of *pei̯Htu- weakened to [φ] in the inlaut after [u] (cf. uvamokozis; Villar & Prósper 2005: 307, n. 453). Whether ‹v› in this attestation is a spelling approximation for genuine Celtic [φ], or [u̯] through Etruscan sound substitution, is unclear. As Etruscan had anlauting /f/, /h/ and /u̯/, the lack of any reflection of a weakened /p/ in the first element < *pelh₁u- shows that initial /h/ in Lat. heluetiī, which was hardly borrowed before 300 BC, cannot reflect /h/ < /p/ in the Celtic form; see Stifter 2012c: 530 f. on "exotic h" in Latin ethnonyms.

It cannot be securely determined whether the Etruscan attestation is a cognomen/nickname literally meaning 'the Helvetian', an individual name, or a nomen. For individual names derived from ethnonyms cf. kalatiknos. Villar & Prósper 2005: 307, n. 453 propose the same etymology (minus the suffix) for Ogam ILVVETO.

An alternative etymology is proposed by De Bernardo Stempel (in a letter to Stefan Zimmer, recorded in Villar & Prósper 2005: 307, n. 453), who analyses the second element as u̯ēd- < *u̯ei̯d- (→ 'much-knowing', cf. u̯id-).

David Stifter, Corinna Salomon