Emerald Ethymology

The origin of the word emerald could come from the Indian Sanskrit “marakata” or “marakta” that could be interpreted as “the greenest thing”. The root of “marak” means light, sparkle. In Persia it was called by the word “Zabargat” and the Arabs called it by the name of “Zamarut”. If we go back to the word “marakta” we can notice that its transformation to “maragdos” and then “smaragdos” should have not been too complicated. Phonetic changes occur with the difficulty of some people in pronouncing certain sounds as is evidenced by the transformation of the Greek word “smaragdos” to the Classical Latin “smaragdus” and then “smaraudus”.

The word “Emerald” is derived (via Old French: esmeraude and Middle English: emeraude), from Vulgar Latin: Esmeralda/esmaraldus, a variant of Latin “smaragdus”, which originated in Greek. Esmeralda, the word as we know it in Spanish, comes from the old French “esmeraude” which itself came from “smaraudus”. Over the years, due to the trade among towns, the Spanish word for emerald that should have been “esmerode” due to diphthong “au” became “o”. Upon hearing the French, the Spaniards heard something similar to “esmeraad”, the vowel “u” was not audible to the Spaniards, leaving a gap that was filled with a lengthening of the vowel “a”. Elongated vowels are not part of the phonetic sounds in the Spanish language, so this space was finally filled with the letter “l” and thus we built the word Esmeralda, that names the precious gems.

Currently the name Emerald is designated in several languages as follows:

German smaragd
Arabic زمرد
Bulgarian изумруд
Catalan maragda
Czech smaragd
Chinese Traditional  綠寶石
Danish smaragd
Spanish esmeralda
French émeraude
Welsh emrallt
Greek σμαράγδι
Dutch smaragd
Hungarian smaragd
English emerald
Irish iathghlas
Italian smeraldo
Japanese エメラルド
Malay zamrud
Norwegian smaragd
Portuguese esmeralda
Romanian smarald
Russian изумруд
Swedish smaragd
Turkish zümrüt

Emeralds also lived their history in the New World before the discovery of America and therefore it is important to rescue some of the linguistic cultures of The Muzos who traded and exchanged Emeralds for other precious supplies of the period with other people of the continent, like the Incas of Peru, the Colombian Chibchas, and even to Mexico came Emeralds from Muzo. In 1581 Juan Suarez de Cepeda wrote a ratio script of the Muzos – Colimas, where we can find interesting words that are related to the Emerald.

• ABIPI: Great I am. Name of a hill where Emeralds were found.
• ARE: God, first man creator.
• AZA: Magdalena (Madeleine) River
• NICUA: Salt
• PAYME: Tall
• YTOCO: Sit and rest. Name of a hill where Emeralds were found.
• APIPA: Great Warrior
• PAPA: Father, respected figure.
• TAPAZ: Green Stone (Emeralds)
• TAPACES: Muzo-Colima Indian (The ones with the green stones).
•YVICHICUCO: Mythical giant snake.