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smartjohn
The Red and the Green Stamps


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Heard it on the radio...
The orgins of the word testify lie in the practice in the old days of grabbing onto your testicles as you swore you were telling the truth. Presumably, if you were found to not be telling the truth, they'd be lopped off or some such.
It seems more likely to me that testify adn testicles have some comon older root. Does anyone know?

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bup
The Red and the Green Stamps


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According to Webster's online
http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary

they both come from Latin testis; however,
the etymology for 'testify' notes that
testis meant 'witness,' whereas the etymology
for testicle does not.

Maybe they were Latin homonyms, or maybe the
two words do share a common root.

That still wouldn't show that the reason is
because people used to grab their testicles
to testify, of course, but it's the best I
could do. It still sounds ridiculous.


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Kathy B
Angels Wii Have Heard on High


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My dicitonary says that both derive from the Latin testis] which means "witness" and that the testicle is the "witness to one's virility"

Take a look at this explanation

Wordorigins says

quote:
Testify
There is bit of folklore floating about that the word testify (with its associated forms like testimony and testament) derives from testicle. The legend has it that ancient Romans would hold their testes while swearing oaths. This is not true. The word does not derive from testicle, nor did Romans swear oaths on their private parts.

Testify, et. al., derives from the Latin testis meaning witness. Testicle also derives from testis. The testes are witnesses to a man's virility.


American Heritage Dictionary postulates a Greek root (no pun intended, quite giggling, you Aussies)

Kathy "she said 'root'" B.


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Chava
The Red and the Green Stamps


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Genesis 24:

quote:
1 And Abraham was old, and well stricken in age: and the LORD had blessed Abraham in all things.

2 And Abraham said unto his eldest servant of his house, that ruled over all that he had, Put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh:

3 and I will make thee swear by the LORD, the God of heaven, and the God of the earth, that thou shalt not take a wife unto my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell:

4 but thou shalt go unto my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac.

Chava


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huginn
The Red and the Green Stamps


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The problem with this theory is that it implies that the guy holding your family jewels will know if you lie. If he's so well-informed and reliable, why don't they just get his testimony?

hug"or if it's a girl, maybe it's just to make sure you show up"inn


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Il-Mari
We Three Blings


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Today we swear on Bibles, a few millenia ago we swore on our testicles It's known that several cultures have done this, but I'm not certain as to whether the root word is the same in this case.
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