skubalon (and etymology)

alexali alexali at
Sat Jul 31 19:57:50 EDT 1999

Charlie Trimm asked about the "vulgarity level" of SKUBALON.  I've always
associated this word with a supposed etymology, from EIS KUWN BALLEIN,
(eisballein by tmesis), ie referring to what a dog drops.  I checked LSJ
but didn't see any reference to this, so I imagine that I read it in a
commentary on Phil 3:8. The rarity of the word surely makes it strong;  it
is not a word leached of meaning or power through overuse.  Spicq discusses
this hapax legomenon in his Theological Lexicon of the New Testament, and
ends with the comment, "To convey the crudity of the Greek ... 'It's all
crap.' "

( A question recently asked on the list was the value of studying
etymology;  the supposed etymology of this word was one that I learnt in my
student days twenty years ago.  Aside from the deeper issues already
discussed on the list, a simple but worthwhile point is that etymological
studies can be a tremendous aid to memory in learning the meanings of words
and of groups of cognate words, even if we don't always accept etymology as
revealing nothing but the truth.)

Dr Alexander Hopkins  (Melbourne, Australia)

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