Etymology of Cerebrum

Gabriel pradip2000 at YAHOO.COM
Wed Feb 23 16:12:01 UTC 2000

Dear friend,
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  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Ven. Tantra 
  Sent: Wednesday, February 23, 2000 12:04 AM
  Subject: Etymology of Cerebrum

  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. 


  Troy Harris 

  (1) Heinrich Zimmer, Philosophies of India, edited by Joseph Campbell, Bollingen Series XXVI, (Princeton University Press, 1951), 79

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