\ \ There are no fewer than six distinct words bay in English. The ‘sea inlet’ [14] comes via Old French baie from Old Spanish bahia. Bay as in bay leaf [14] comes from a different Old French word baie, whose source was Latin bācaberry’. The ‘reddish-brown colour of a horse’ [14] comes via Old French bai from Latin badius, which is related to Old Irish buideyellow’. The ‘recessed area or compartment’ [14] comes from yet another Old French baie, a derivative of the verb bayergape, yawn’, from medieval Latin batāre (English acquired abash and abeyance from the same source, and it may also be represented in the first syllable of beagle). Baybark’ [14] comes from Old French abaiier, in which the element -bai- probably originated as an imitation of a dog howling. And it is the source of bay as in at bay [13] (from Old French abai), the underlying idea of which is that of a hunted animal finally turning and facing its barking pursuers.

Word origins - 2ed. . 2005.


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