Eng. doe < OE dā f. 'female fallow deer'. Etymology uncertain. Found also in modern North Germanic languages: Da. då, dådyr; Sw. dåhjort, Norw. dåhjort, etc. Most sources take the view that the Nordic forms are borrowed from Old English. GK proposes an "Anglo-Norse" common ancestor, PGm. *dajō-, *dajōn- f. ‘female animal, (fallow) deer’, which he surmises is "possibly related to *dajjan- v. 'to suckle'.” The question of the relation between OE dā and other West Germanic forms is problematic: the OE word, according to an old etymology in the OED, is "thought by some to be a contracted form, cognate with OHG tâmo, dâmo weak masculine, MHG tâme, G dam- (in damhirsch, damwild), < Latin dāma, damma (feminine), sometimes masculine, fallow deer, buck, doe; but there are serious difficulties" (OED 1897). An alternative hypothesis which may resolve all these issues is that d- words meaning ‘fallow deer’ in various European languages are all of Celtic origin: Fr. daim ‘fallow deer’ < Gall-Lat. damma <- PCelt. *damo- (RM); G dam- (in damhirsch, damwild) ‘fallow deer’ < Late MHG dam 'fallow deer' < MHG tâme m., tâm n. 'fallow deer' < OHG. tâmo, dâmo m. 'fallow deer' <- Lat. dāma, damma f. & m. 'fallow deer; buck, doe' <- PCelt. *damo-; OE dā f. 'female fallow deer' <- PCelt. *damo-. Concerning the semantics of PCelt *damo- ‘bull’ < PIE *dmh₂o- 'the tamed one' (IEW: 199f.): compare OIr. dam m. 'bull, deer', MW dafad f. 'sheep', Bret. dañvad, OCo. dauat ‘sheep’; also Skt. damya- 'young bull to be tamed', and Alb. dem 'bull, steer'.
Robert Farren, PIE culture words collection, 2017
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