False Etymology: Holofernes

IMG_0362I recently began reading the Vulgate from the beginning. The reading is not too difficult, but there are words I need to look up every so often. The most recent word was holus, holeris, which means cabbage or vegetable. My mind instantly went to Holofernes. Perhaps his name means cabbage-ferns (as impossible as the Latin origin is, the fern is even more impossible–for it comes from the Old English fearn). This led me to remember the early seasons of Dragon Ball Z, where all of the Saiyans are named after vegatables (Vegeta, Kakarot=carrot, Raditz=radish). And then I remembered that┬ámany scholars think the Book of Judith is invented, and then I thought how bizarre that Akira Toriyama and the inspired author of Judith should resort to the same tactic for naming their villains.

Then, seeking out the true etymology of the name, I found a blog post on an Old English poem concerning Judith and Holofernes:
Because the poem is Old English, the author plays on the false Old English meanings of the whole of his name!

(The true etymology goes back to Persian apparently, where pharna means “glorious”.)

One more tidbit: I was surprised to see that reptiles reptant. Apparently repto, reptare┬ámeans to creep or crawl, and so our word “reptile” means a creature that does just that.