ἀμφί + ζητέω

Validation

No

Word-form

ἀμφισβητεῖν

Transliteration (Word)

amphisbēteō

English translation (word)

to disagree, to dispute

Transliteration (Etymon)

amphi + zēteō

English translation (etymon)

on both sides + to seek

Author

Etym. Genuinum

Century

9 AD

Source

Idem

Ref.

Etym. Genuinum, alpha 729

Ed.

F. Lasserre and N. Livadaras, Etymologicum magnum genuinum. Symeonis etymologicum una cum magna grammatica. Etymologicum magnum auctum, vol. 1, Rome: Ateneo, 1976

Quotation

Ἀμφισβητεῖν· τὸ ζητεῖν, πλεονασμῷ τοῦ β· ἔστι γὰρ ἀμφισητεῖν. ἢ παρὰ τὸ ἀμφίς καὶ τὸ βάζειν, ἵνα σημαίνῃ τὸ ἀμφιλογεῖν. πολλάκις δὲ πλεονάζει τὸ β ὡς ἐν τῷ ἄδηρον ἄβδηρον, ἄ⟦β⟧δηρος γάρ τίς ἐστι, καὶ σίδαι σίβδαι. καὶ οὕτως μὲν ὁ Μεθόδιος· ὁ δὲ Ζηνόβιος (fr. I 3 Schoemann) λέγει, ὅτι δύναται μὴ παρὰ τὴν ἀμφί συγκεῖσθαι πρόθεσιν, ἀλλὰ παρὰ τὸ ἀμφίς ἐπίρρημα, ἵνα σημαίνῃ τὸ κεχωρισμένως βαίνειν· τοιοῦτοι γὰρ οἱ διστάζοντες

Translation (En)

Amphisbēteîn "to dispute": to search (zēteîn), through adjunction of [b], because it is *amphisēteîn. Or from amphis "apart" and bazein "to talk", so that it means "to dispute". The adjunction of [b] is frequent, as in *adēron abdēron, as it is "without fight", and *sidai sibdai. This is what Methodius says. But Zenobius says that it can be a compound, not of the prefix amphi "on both sides, around", but of the adverb amphis "apart", so that it means "to go apart", such as those being uncertain (distazontes), meaning literally "standing apart"

Comment

The explanation relies on a formal manipulation, the insertion of β, and on an interesting play between the phonetic and graphic levels: the sibilant in ζητέω was pronounced [z], voiced, and so was the σ in ἀμβισβητεῖν [amphizbētein] in Classical Greek, [amfizvitein] in Byzantine Greek, although the spelling is with the voiceless σ. Therefore the complete chain is [amfizitin] (*ἀμφιζητεῖν), hence [amfizvitin] (ἀμφισβητεῖν) in which the sibilant is spelled σ because there is no sequence ζβ in Greek, and from there the ghost form *ἀμφισητεῖν was abstracted. From the semantic point of view, dispute is defined as a form of inquiry where people seek the truth about something.

Parallels

Etym. Magnum, Kallierges, p. 94 (idem)

Modern etymology

Denominative of a *ἀμφισβήτης, with ἀμφί(ς) and an action noun of βαίνω. The literal meaning would be "going on both sides"

Persistence in Modern Greek

MG still has αμφισβητώ designating 1. 'to have doubts' and 2. 'to not accept'. There also are the derivatives αμφισβήτηση, αμφισβητίας, αμφισβητήσιμος.

Entry By

Le Feuvre