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Headword: *ko/balos
Adler number: kappa,1897
Translated headword: rogue
Vetting Status: high
[Meaning someone who is] rude, cunning.
A robber, [sc. so-called] from the [noun] kopis ["knife"].[1] Or someone who is] scheming: for kobala are bad things.[2]
Also [sc. attested is] kobaleia, [meaning] flattery by someone evil.
Aristophanes [calls them] club-bearers too.[3] "He cheats us like old men" -- meaning robs.[4] But some [interpret] kobalon as amusement with deceit.[5]
Greek Original:
*ko/balos: a)neleu/qeros, panou=rgos. o( lh|sth/s, a)po\ th=s kopi/dos. h)\ o( kako/texnos: ko/bala ga/r e)sti ta\ kaka/. kai\ *kobalei/a, h( para\ ponhrou= a)nqrw/pou kolakei/a. tou\s au)tou\s kai\ korunhforei=s *)aristofa/nhs: w(sperei\ ge/rontas h(ma=s e)kkobalikeu/etai. a)nti\ tou= lh|steu/ei. oi( de\ ko/balon th\n meta\ a)pa/ths paidia/n.
[1] The lexicographer draws a connection between ko/b-alos, used in Aristophanes, Knights 450, and the verb ko/p-tw "cut". The Etymologicum Gudianum s.v. ko/pis derives it from ko/pis "liar", which it explains oxymoronically as "brief, sharp in words, or babbling". (ps.-Zonaras uses the same gloss, deriving it directly from ko/yai.) More plausibly, the Etymologicum Magnum and Etymologicum Gudianum s.v. ko/balos derive it from kopi/s via kopi/balos "?knife-thrower".
In fact, the verb kobaleu/w (kappa 1895) appears to preserve the original meaning of the stem, "porter"; so also the 3rd c. CE noun kobalismo/s "porterage" (LSJ s.v.). "Porter" was commonly used as a term of abuse; see LSJ s.v. prou/neikos, fo/rtac, fortiko/s.
Chantraine calls the etymology "obscure."
[2] It is likelier for the noun ko/balon "knavery" to be derived from ko/balos "knave".
[3] From the scholia to Aristophanes, Knights 270 (cf. next note): "ko/baloi are robbers holding pieces of wood; they are also called club-bearers." (Properly, korunofo/ros refers to bodyguards: LSJ s.v.) The scholion is also cited in upsilon 393.
[4] Aristophanes, Knights 270; the misconstrual of the verb as "rob", instead of "trick, act as a rogue to", comes from the scholiast's folk etymology with "robber".
[5] Also from the scholiast, conceding the "trickery" interpretation of the stem.
P. Chantraine, Dictionnaire ├ętymologique de la langue grecque, ed. 2. Paris 2009.
Keywords: comedy; daily life; definition; dialects, grammar, and etymology; ethics
Translated by: Nick Nicholas on 3 January 2009@08:37:44.
Vetted by:
Catharine Roth (cosmetics, status) on 3 January 2009@19:41:16.
David Whitehead (another keyword; tweaks and cosmetics) on 5 January 2009@03:27:18.
David Whitehead on 6 March 2013@05:32:00.
Catharine Roth (expanded note, added bibliography) on 3 October 2019@23:39:04.


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