But the "-bar-" in "embarrass" isn't like the "bear" in "bear arms." It comes from "baraço" which was the kind of cord or leash you'd use to restrain an animal — perhaps a bear. But the "bear" in "bear arms" is an extremely old root that has always referred to carrying a burden. "Bear," the animal, takes us somewhere else entirely, to the word "brown." Northern Europeans took to calling a bear "the brown one," disconnecting from the Latin "ursus" because — the theory goes — hunters had a taboo on saying the names of wild animals.
Wanting to know more about this taboo, I found a blog post that caught my eye because it inadvertently said the name of my husband: "'Mead Paw' the Original 'He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named'":
... Bronze-Age hunters came to believe that using the bear’s true name allowed the animal to hear and comprehend the hunter. This would allow the bear to either elude the hunter or come seeking him, who would then become the hunted. The bear was the only really dangerous animal in the great Germanic forest, so to reduce this danger, men changed the rules....That post proceeds the issues of not saying the name of God and the Harry Potter taboo on naming Lord Voldemort, but my mind wandered to the subject of Donald Trump. It was just 2 posts down that I was writing about an Andrew Sullivan essay, which I had searched for the word "Trump" and, finding nothing, praised for not mentioning Trump, and which I had to come back to and update when I realized that Sullivan was treating Trump as one who must not be named. It was right there in the one paragraph I'd excerpted: "a walking human Snapchat app of incoherence."
In the Slavic lands, a similar taboo deformation resulted in the Russian name медведь (from *medu-ed) meaning ‘honey-eater’. This compares with our familiar Beowulf which literally means ‘Bee-wolf’ – an obvious poetic euphemism for Bear, in light of the bears notorious liking for honey. Beowulf is ‘bear-like’ in his great strength....
Of all the animals, the most sacred was the bear, whose real name was never uttered out loud. The bear (“karhu” in Finnish) was seen as the embodiment of the forefathers, and for this reason it was called by many euphemisms: “mesikämmen” (“mead-paw”), “otso” (“wide brow”), “kontio” (“dweller of the land”), “lakkapoika” (“cloudberry boy”).
Suddenly, I realized that I'd started out doing the same thing. I would not accept the existence of Donald Trump as a candidate for President. Look at this post from June 16, 2015: