Why is called "comb" the wax structure where the honey is stored?
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  1. #1
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    Default Why is called "comb" the wax structure where the honey is stored?

    Hello,
    I have a linguistic question: why is the same name used in the tool for style the hair to refer to the wax body where the honey is? Curiously, the same thing happens in the Basque (perhaps the oldest language in the European continent, now reduced to the Spanish and the French Basque Country), it is said "eztiorrazi" (honeycomb) or "orraze" or "orrazi" (comb) . The tool for style the hair is also called "orrazi" in Basque. I think that this coincidence must have some reason.

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Why is called "comb" the wax structure where the honey is stored?

    Good question. I looked up the etymology, which isn't all that helpful ...

    honeycomb (n.)

    Old English hunigcamb; see honey (n.) + comb (n.). This use of the Germanic "comb" word seems to be peculiar to English, and the likeness is not obvious. Perhaps the image is from the comb used in wool-combing, but that extended sense of comb is not attested before Middle English. In other Germanic languages the word for it is "honey-string," "honey-cake," "bee-wafer," etc. Latin has favus, Greek melikerion.

    Transferred use, in reference to various structures resembling honeycomb, is from 1520s. As a verb, from 1620s (implied in honeycombed).
    So - it would appear that the origins of the word 'honeycomb' (even when referring to a brood comb) remains something of a mystery.

    My guess is that it probably has something to do with having an alternating structure - as in a hair-comb or the comb on a cockerel's head ... maybe.
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Why is called "comb" the wax structure where the honey is stored?

    The word honeycomb comes from the Old English word ‘hunigcamb’. It is a combination of two root words: ‘honey’, from the Old English word ‘hunig’, and ‘comb’, from the Old English word ‘camb’ meaning ‘thin strip of stiff material’.

    http://www.macmillandictionaryblog.com/honeycomb
    The sides of the honeycomb cell ARE formed of a "thin strip of stiff material".
    And a comb (as used for hair) is also more or less a thin strip of stiff material.
    Graham
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  5. #4
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    Default Re: Why is called "comb" the wax structure where the honey is stored?

    A comb on a rooster is sort of a "blade" shape (unless you have a wyandotte etc.). A comb for your hair is a row of teeth. If you think of a comb as two dimensions and extend it into three dimensions you have parallel "blades" of wax. Certainly there are many uses of "comb" that do not imply hair (A rooster comb or a cockscomb) Maybe part of the idea is simply that it is serrated and the cells give that impression. Certainly each comb when first started resemble an upside down rooster's comb.

    https://www.etymonline.com/word/comb

    comb (n.)
    Old English camb (later Anglian comb) "thin strip of toothed, stiff material" (for dressing the hair), also "fleshy crest growing on the head of the domestic fowl" (so called for its serrations), hence "crest of a hat, helmet, etc.;" also "honeycomb" (for which see honeycomb (n.)) , from Proto-Germanic *kambaz (source also of Old Saxon and Old High German camb, German Kamm, Middle Dutch cam, Dutch kam, Old Norse kambr), literally "toothed object," from PIE *gombhos, from root *gembh- "tooth, nail."

    From c. 1300 as a tool for carding wool (probably earlier; Comber as a surname is from c. 1200). Comb-paper (1866) is marbled paper in which the design is produced mostly by use of a comb.
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  6. #5
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    Default Re: Why is called "comb" the wax structure where the honey is stored?

    that wasn't much help honey comb doesn't look much like any of those Explanations but a section of cut comb held on edge sort of looks like comb
    Im really not that serious

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Why is called "comb" the wax structure where the honey is stored?

    Quote Originally Posted by erlaita View Post
    Hello,
    I have a linguistic question: why is the same name used in the tool for style the hair to refer to the wax body where the honey is? ... .
    The comb was needed in the medieval times to obtain yarns for weaving.

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Why is called "comb" the wax structure where the honey is stored?

    The combing of the wax-honey mixture gave them wax for candles.

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Why is called "comb" the wax structure where the honey is stored?

    As you see, the experimental archaeology is needed to find the answer.

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Why is called "comb" the wax structure where the honey is stored?

    Just thinking of other references to comb brought catacomb to mind, which might have a similarity to honey "storage" but not the hair comb. The link below eludes to

    the word perhaps was altered by influence of Latin -cumbere "to lie."


    https://www.etymonline.com/word/catacomb
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  11. #10
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    Default Re: Why is called "comb" the wax structure where the honey is stored?

    Perhaps looking at a single 'comb' is the wrong way to view this question. Kind of like only seeing trees and not seeing forest.

    Think back to how bees make parallel rows of comb to raise brood and store honey. Those are, when viewed from the side, parallel structures like the teeth of a comb or a rooster's comb.

    The following is from a Wikipedia page from a Google search for 'honeycomb etymology': "From Middle English hony combe, from Old English huniġcamb; equivalent to honey +‎ comb. The Oxford English Dictionary (s.v. "honeycomb") suggests that the arrangement of plates of wax (with honey) "hanging parallel to each other from the roof of the hive suggests a comb with its teeth"."

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Why is called "comb" the wax structure where the honey is stored?

    I did a bit more searching on this topic...I looked up 'biological combs', thinking about things like whale baleen or the 'teeth' that are found in many waterfowl mouths to help harvest food, and found the term 'pecten', which is Latin for comb, or scallop. I knew that some seashells (think of the Shell oil company logo) are called pectens, and found that comb-like structures in many animals are called pectens, and they can be sensory organs or help nourish cells in the retina of the eye (for example).

    What is perhaps most relevant to this thread, however, is that the undulations of a scallop shell (pecten = comb) are similar to the undulations of the midrib of a honeycomb.

    There, that's my contribution to the advancement of knowledge for the day. You read it here first.

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Why is called "comb" the wax structure where the honey is stored?

    When my son had just started school he came home and told me this joke "hey Dad there was an explosion at the hair salon." Really? i said. He continues "yes, police are combing the area."

    Pretty funny from the mouth of a 5 year old
    "Every viewpoint, is a view from a point." - Solomon Parker

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Why is called "comb" the wax structure where the honey is stored?

    I would suggest (without much basis) that the roots that become the word combine might be a place to start looking.
    https://www.etymonline.com/word/combine
    A honeycomb being a combination of many similar cells.
    A hair comb a combination of similar teeth, etc.
    Bill

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Why is called "comb" the wax structure where the honey is stored?

    Quote Originally Posted by Knisely View Post
    Think back to how bees make parallel rows of comb to raise brood and store honey. Those are, when viewed from the side, parallel structures like the teeth of a comb or a rooster's comb.
    I reckon that's the best explanation so far ...
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Why is called "comb" the wax structure where the honey is stored?

    I think it is more in line with the definition of "comba" which means deep narrow valley.

    https://en.m.wiktionary.org/wiki/comba

    This would hold true for a hair comb as well since the space between the teeth form...deep narrow valleys.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

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