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From Proto-Slavic *medvědь, from Proto-Balto-Slavic *medu-ēdis, equivalent to *medъ (“honey”) + *(j)ěsti (“to eat”), hence literally the epithet “honey-eater”. Cognate with Sanskrit मध्वद् (madhv-ád-, “eating sweetness”) (RV I 164,22). Presumably came into use as taboo avoidance of an earlier word, possibly something like *rьstъ (compare Lithuanian irštvà (“bear’s den”), from Proto-Indo-European *h₂ŕ̥tḱos). Similar proposed examples of linguistic taboo for ‘bear’ are Proto-Germanic *berô (“the brown one”), Latvian lācis (“stomper, pounder”), Old Irish math (“the good one”). There is a folk etymology from *medъ and *věděti (“to know, to manage”), hence “one who knows honey” or “honey master”.
- IPA: /mědʋed/
- Hyphenation: med‧ved
mèdved m (Cyrillic spelling мѐдвед)
- bear (mammal)