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
    Commented May 12, 2016 at 13:15
  • For another example with a different pair of voiced-vs-unvoiced consonants, vin (wine) vs fin (end). Commented May 12, 2016 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
    Commented May 12, 2016 at 18:58
  • 3
    These words are so similar for the very same reason bitch and beach are.
    – jlliagre
    Commented May 12, 2016 at 20:07
  • I think it is closer to the difference between biter and bitter in English
    – MorganFR
    Commented May 13, 2016 at 12:37

1 Answer 1


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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