Bulgarian root: Mah “wave”

In Bulgarian class yesterday, we were reading about eagles (like you do) and came across the phrase: Размах на крилете –  Raz-mah na kril-e-te – “Wingspan” (lit. apart-wave of wing-s-the). But while English span comes from a root meaning “to stretch” (other cognates include spin, spider, and pendulum) the Bulgarian word comes from a root meaning “to wave.”

мах – mah /max/ – “a wave of the hand” “a swish” (I bet it’s imitative)

The verb is  махам – maham – “I wave” “I get rid of”, which combined with the prefix raz (”apart”) produces размахам – razmaham – “I wave around” “I flap” “I whisk”. You can combine this verb with many other prefixes to tweak its meaning, e.g. zamaham  – “I lash”, pomaham – “I shake”, and otmaham – “I take away” and premaham – “I remove”.

Those last are because maham can also mean “get rid of,” (probably from the same logic as “wave something away”) which, when made reflexive becomes махам се – maham se – “I get rid of myself” “I get out of here” “I scram”. The imperative mahay se! is rather rude.

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