A dry colorless plum brandy.
[Serbo-Croatian šljivovica, from šljiva, plum; see sleiə- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
Word History: Though colorless itself, slivovitz is made from bluish plums, and the name for this kind of brandy or schnapps is of Slavic origin and ultimately comes from the Indo-European root meaning "blue." The Slavic words for "plum," such as Serbo-Croatian šljiva, Czech slíva, and Russian sliva, are related to Latin līvidus, "bluish, bruise-colored," from which we get livid, a word synonymous with our black-and-blue when used to describe the discoloration caused by a bruise. The Indo-European root *sleiə-, "bluish," from which the Slavic and the Latin words are descended, has another descendant in English associated with alcohol, sloe, the name of a small sour plum of a dark purplish color. Many who have never seen this type of plum have tasted it in sloe gin, which is flavored with sloes.
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Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.