The Estonian liisuma and its attendants

Keywords: Estonian, lexical history, etymology, Baltic loanwords

The Estonian verb liisuma ’grow stale, become vapid’ is provided with a Baltic etymology: Blt. *līsV-, whose descendants in modern Baltic languages are, e.g. Lith. lýsti (lýsta, lýso) ’grow thin or lean, become emaciated (of a sick person or animal); become lean, barren (of a field or soil)’. For example the Lith. líesti (líesta, líeso) ’become emaciated (of an animal), become barren (of land)’, líesas ’meagre, emaciated (person or animal), lean (meat), lean, poor, hungry, barren (soil); shriveled (ear of grain)’, Latv. liẽst (liẽst, liẽsa) ’become lean’, liẽss ’thin, meagre (person), lean (meat), lean, poor, hungry, barren (soil)’ all belong to the same word family. The Finnic *laiha: Est. lahja, South-Est. laih, Fin. laiha ’thin, watery, poor’ have been ­borrowed from the same Baltic word family.


Lembit Vaba (b. 1945), PhD, Foreign Member of the Latvian Academy of Sciences,