Etymology of Cerebrum
troyoga at YAHOO.COM
Wed Feb 23 03:04:45 UTC 2000
I am trying to determine the etymology of the Latin word Cerebrum. I would appreciate any insights readers might share.
English dictionaries do not give a real etymology of Cerebrum. I see in it two Sanskritic roots. Cere-would appear to designate �the head� as is evidenced by the Sanskrit/Hindi sirii with its special reference to �the head of a sacrifice.� -brum I assume to be derived from Sanskrit Brahman, the ultimate principle of Indian thought.
Heinrich Zimmer(1) notes that Brahman is based on the Vedic root br.h (or brah), the particle of �power,� �growth� and �expansion.� When inflected, br.h becomes both br.h-ant �great� and br.m.h �to make or render great.� As applies to sound, br.h signifies �roar� and when inserted with the nasal m. as in br.m.hita it has the meaning of �elephant roar,� the sentient sound that �swells� above the others. When the genitive ending -man is considered, Brah-man gives the sense of �heightened activation.� On the strength of this, �cerebrum� seems to point to �the human organ of understanding,� the aspect of the body that mirrors Brahman.
(1) Heinrich Zimmer, Philosophies of India, edited by Joseph Campbell, Bollingen Series XXVI, (Princeton University Press, 1951), 79
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