8

I recently discovered that the words poison and poisson, meaning poison and fish in English are very similar, despite not being contextually even close. Might it be that fish might rot and become poisonous? I haven't found anything that might even suggest an answer.

  • 8
    it's just a coincidence. Another example would be cousin (cousin) and coussin (pillow/cushion), but there are even more "SS vs S" in French like base (base) and basse (bass) or case and casse etc. It is the case with other letters aswell. – MorganFR May 12 '16 at 13:15
  • For another example with a different pair of voiced-vs-unvoiced consonants, vin (wine) vs fin (end). – Steve Jessop May 12 '16 at 16:42
  • When I read "poisson" in English, I think of the French mathematician, or the probability distribution (useful in modeling arrival times etc.) named after him (which is just one of several concepts named after him). – WBT May 12 '16 at 18:58
  • 3
    These words are so similar for the very same reason bitch and beach are. – jlliagre May 12 '16 at 20:07
  • I think it is closer to the difference between biter and bitter in English – MorganFR May 13 '16 at 12:37
18

I would say this is accidental.

The word 'poisson' comes from the Latin piscem, meaning fish, while 'poison' comes from 'potion' which itself originates from potio, also Latin but meaning beverage.

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