1250–1300; Middle English (h)oste (noun) < Middle French < Latin hospit- (stem of hospes) host, guest, stranger, perhaps < *hosti-pot(i)s or *hos-pot(i)s, equivalent to hos(ti)- combining form of hostis stranger (see host2) + -pot(i)s, akin to potis having the power to, posse to be able (see potent1) (hence, “one granting hospitality, one in charge of guests”); compare, with different initial elements, Greek despótēs master, despot, Lithuanian viẽšpats lord
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Note: The dual meanings "host"/"guest" of Latin hospes and its progeny are due to customs of reciprocity: a person serving as guest on one occasion would act—and be expected to act—as host on another occasion to a visiting former host. Both Latin hospes and Slavic gospodĭ have undergone a considerable degree of phonetic reduction from their putative etymons—in particular in the Slavic case, where Latin unstressed syllable reduction and syncope were not at play—leading some to question the correctness of the etymologies. Parallel compounds with the same second element are Greek despótēs "master, lord" (going back to *dems-pot- "master of the house"; see despot), Sanskrit dámpatiḥ "householder, lord of the house," Avestan də̄ṇg paitiš; Sanskrit viśpátiḥ "chief of a settlement/tribe," Avestan vīspaitiš, Lithuanian viẽšpats "lord" (with outcomes of Indo-European *u̯iḱ-, *u̯oiḱ- "house, community"; see vicinity).
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