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Etymology and language::Black

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Etymology and language The word black comes from Old English blæc ("black, dark", also, "ink"), from Proto-Germanic *blakkaz ("burned"), from Proto-Indo-European *bhleg- ("to burn, gleam, shine, flash"), from base *bhel- ("to shine"), related to Old Saxon blak ("ink"), Old High German blach ("black"), Old Norse blakkr ("dark"), Dutch blaken ("to burn"), and Swedish bläck ("ink"). More distant cognates include Latin flagrare ("to blaze, glow, burn"), and Ancient Greek phlegein ("to burn, scorch").

The Ancient Greeks sometimes used the same word to name different colors, if they had the same intensity. Kuanos' could mean both dark blue and black.<ref name="Michel Pastoureau pg. 34">Michel Pastoureau, Noir - Histoire d'une couleur, p. 34.</ref>

The Ancient Romans had two words for black: ater was a flat, dull black, while niger was a brilliant, saturated black. Ater has vanished from the vocabulary, but niger was the source of the country name Nigeria<ref>"African nation, named for the river Niger, mentioned by that name 1520s (Leo Africanus), probably an alteration (by influence of Latin niger "black") of a local Tuareg name, egereou n-igereouen, from egereou "big river, sea" + n-igereouen, plural of that word. Translated in Arabic as nahr al-anhur "river of rivers." (Online Etymological Dictionary)</ref> the English word Negro and the word for "black" in most modern Romance languages (French: noir; Spanish: negro; Italian: nero).

Old High German also had two words for black: swartz for dull black and blach for a luminous black. These are parallelled in Middle English by the terms swart for dull black and blaek for luminous black. Swart still survives as the word swarthy, while blaek became the modern English black.<ref name="Michel Pastoureau pg. 34"/>

In heraldry, the word used for the black color is sable,<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref> named for the black fur of the sable, an animal.


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