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what's in a name?

Cuil may be "an old Irish word for knowledge", but those of us who learned the language more recently (like, say, in the 20th century) will recognise it as meaning "rear". I've even found a dictionary which indicates that this meaning comes from old Irish. In fact, the only references I can find to it meaning "knowledge" are the word-for-word press release reprints from Cuil themselves.
Ah, but there's a catch. In one of the longer articles, the name is revealed to be "derived from a character named Finn McCuill in Celtic folklore" which is an entirely different thing. In this instance, Cuill is a misspelling of Cumhaill, and the name means, simply, "Fionn, son of Cumhall" (Irish tends to insert and remove the occasional vowel to keep you on your toes), which has this new search engine potentially named after... a female slave. Or maybe "keeping", which might make for an easier backstory for a search engine? In any case, I suspect I'll be continuing to use Google despite this "Cuil" new site (their intended pun, not mine).
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Cul is French for rear, but it's not the word you'd use in polite company. I don't know if it's derived from Latin or if it's one of the weird Gallic or Frankish words that came down to modern French, like the counting system.
Wiktionnaire says it's "Du latin culus, fesses" which is pretty straightforward. The number of Gaulish words that persist in modern French is tiny, and, iirc, tends to be names for plants and such things that are very specific to a certain terroir.
There's also the Spanish culo, which has about the same level of politeness (in my non-Spanish-speaking understanding). Evidently nobody has learned from that whole Chevy Nova exercise. In a country with a non-trivial number of Spanish speakers, even.
I'd argue their name is not mislead. They've been the butt of jokes today.
Many 'naughty' words in Spanish have varying levels of naughtiness, depending on which Hispanophone country you're in. 'Culo' is no big deal in Spain, but less polite elsewhere.

November 2011



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