Someone used the expression “un-hot question” to explain a write-up that was in the HNQ (Hot Netoccupational Questions) despite not being “hot”. And my thoughts instantly turned to choices such as, ‘tepid’ or ‘lukewarm’, which made me wonder about the origins of the last.

I have never heard of the term luke provided by itself, if luke modified warmth it argued that it might be used to modify other adjectives. So why do not we say luke-tall or luke yellow for instance?

It appears that lukewarm is an example of a solid compound word, and Oxford Dictionaries report that lukewarm is acquired from the language term luke.

You are watching: Where did the term lukewarm come from

Late Center from language luke (most likely from dialect lew ‘lukewarm’ and pertained to lee)+ heat.

Luckily, Online Etymology Dictionary clarifies

lukewarm "neither cold nor warm, tepid," late 14c., from warm (adj.) + luke (adj.) "tepid" (c. 1200), a word of unknown origin. Perhaps it is from Center Dutch or Old Frisian leuk "tepid, weak," or an unexplained variant of Old hleowe (adv.) "warm," every one of which are from Proto-Germanic *khlewaz (from PIE root *kele- (1) "warm;" compare lee).

Delving deeper, I found that lûke in West Frisian means “to pull”. This is relevant because West Frisian, a West Germanic language, is taken into consideration the closest connected language to by linguists.

But the interpretations were so various I abandoned that avenue.

Wiktionary says that the adjective luke in Center was additionally spelled leuk, leuke, and also lewke. That second spelling reminded me of the word leukemia, a malignant blood cell disease, yet tright here leuk is from the Greek “leukos” interpretation bright, white, so despite having the same pronunciation and also spellings, the two are entirely unassociated.

An 1836 quote from Charles Dickens" The Pickwick Papers reveals that luke can come after a noun, such as ‘water’.

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Let me have nine penn"orth o" brandy and also water luke, and also the inkstand also, will you, miss?

As can be checked out, the adjective warm is absent, presumably, readers in the mid-1ninth century were familiar via luke being provided alone. Try as I did, I can not find any type of comparable examples. With the exemption of the above, it appears that luke only modifies warm.

Even The Bard of Avon himself supplied the term lukewarm in two of his plays

May you a better feastern never behost, You knot of mouth-friends! smoke, and luke-warm water Is your perfection. Shakspeare. Timon of Athens 1605–1606


I cannot remainder Until the white increased that I wear be dyed Even in the lukewarm blood of Henry"s heart. Shakespeare. History of Henry VI, Part III 1591


Are there various other examples where luke modified various adjectives or nouns? I did a bit of looking but apart from the Dickens" quote I came up empty-handed.