Thursday 4 June 2015


Where does the English word kiss come from? What is its root etymology? Apparently this is not clear...I would here like to present a potential solution for this puzzle...

A kiss is the touch or pressing of ones lips against another person or an object. It sometimes involves licking and penetration of the mouth with a tongue. Cultural connotations of kissing vary widely. Depending on the culture and context, a kiss can express sentiments of love, passion, romance, sexual attraction, sexual activity, sexual arousal, affection, respect, greeting, friendship, peace and good luck, among many others. In some situations a kiss is a ritual, formal or symbolic gesture indicating devotion, respect, or sacrament.

Apart from humans several other animal species engage in activities which are very similar to kissing or are actually kissing.

Several mammals engage in affectionate behaviour that’s remarkably similar to our kissing. Bonobos apes will tongue kiss for up to 10 minutes. But this is not surprising considering athe bonobos are the biggest sex addicts among the primates. And apparently the happiest and the least aggressive too. I wonder if sex and happyness are in any way linked :). Chimpanzees oftentimes demonstrate kiss-like behaviour after a fight as a way to “kiss and make up” so to speak. Studies have shown that this type of behaviour isn’t just confined to chimpanzees—many other primates “kiss” in their own way.

Non-primate animals engage in kiss-like behaviour as well. Meerkats, for example, will nuzzle and lick each other’s scent glands to mark one another as the alpha and the subordinate. This is especially important after a meerkat returns to their group because the alpha female kicking them out is quite often the reason they left in the first place.

Elephants have been observed sticking their trunks in each others’ mouths as a gesture of both consolation and comfort.

We also have billing of birds, the kissing of pigeons. I already wrote about the kissing of pigeons as the root for the name of this species in Serbian.

The earliest depiction of kissing is the Ain Sakhri lovers figurine. It is a sculpture that was found in one of the Ain Sakhri caves near Bethlehem. The sculpture is considered to date to around 9,000 BC and to be the oldest known representation of two people engaged in sexual intercourse. The pebble depicts a couple face to face. One person has wrapped their arms around the shoulders of their lover in an embrace. The knees of one of the figures bend up over the legs of the other. And they are probably kissing too.

The earliest written reference to kissing-like behaviour in humans comes from the Vedas, Sanskrit scriptures that informed Hinduism, Buddhism and the Jain religion, around 3,500 years ago. During the later Classical period, affectionate mouth-to-mouth kissing was first described in the Hindu epic, the “Mahabharata”.

Both lip and tongue kissing are mentioned in the poetry of Sumer, and kissing is described in the surviving Ancient Egyptian love poetry from the New Kingdom. There are reference to kissing in the Old Testament in Genesis. Evidence of affectionate kissing can be found in ancient Greek literature and art. In the works of the epic poet Homer as well as Greek dramatists, kissing could express a deep emotional bond of friendship as well as parents' love for their children. Moreover, affectionate kissing was also depicted in images painted on ancient Greek art. In Roman society, only on strictly defined occasions was a real kiss deemed appropriate in public. Just as it is today, the side-to-side "air kiss" was common as a form of greeting, but it was not considered significant. You might also kiss a hand, ring, or foot as a public sign of submission. It was your duty to bestow a final kiss when a friend or relative died to release the spirit of the deceased. Little kids were always huggable and kissable. But "real", that is, passionate, kisses were considered to be only done in private. Christians disproved of any open expression of sexuality, so kissing on the lips, or any other action that could have been interpreted as having a sexual connotation was discouraged. However at the same time the Early Christians practiced the so called the kiss of peace as a traditional Christian greeting. The "kiss of peace" as practiced in the Christian liturgy was not a customary not mouth to cheek kiss practiced as greeting in most of the Mediterranean, but mouth to mouth (note that men were separated from women during the liturgy) for, as the primary sources also show, this is how early Christians believed Christ and his followers exchanged their own kiss. 

Some anthropologists think that in the history of mankind, kissing seems to be a late substitute for the more primitive rubbing of noses, sniffing, and licking, which is also much more common sign of affection in the animal world. Kissing, as an expression of affection or love, is still unknown among many races, such as indigenous peoples of Australia, the Tahitians, and many tribes in Africa. Approximately ten percent of the world still do not kiss for a variety of reasons, including that they find it dirty or for superstitious reasons. Psychology professor Elaine Hatfield noted that "kissing was far from universal and even seen as improper by many societies". But maybe the kissing was more widespread but was outlawed by various religions and social laws. Look at India.

In India is the place where we find the earliest reference to kissing. It is the place where Kama Sutra comes from, the first book on love making comes from. It is the place where explicit sexual scenes containing all sorts of kissing adorn ancient Hindu temple walls. And yet today public kissing is frowned upon, and kissing in films is a very new Bollywood "invention". As a matter of fact, in India, public display of affection is a criminal offence under Section 294 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 with a punishment of imprisonment of up to three months, or a fine, or both. I wonder if this law was forced on India by the British, whose puritan protestant Christianity disproved of any "exaggerated" public show of affection. Or did something change in Indian attitude towards sex, love and kissing over past few thousands of years. That this could be the case is shown by the fact that in the other parts of Central, South, and East Asia with predominantly Buddhist or Hindu cultures, or in cultures heavily influenced by these two religions, even cheek kissing is largely uncommon and may be considered offensive. 

In Mongolia, Japan, as in China, although kissing took place in erotic situations, in public "the kiss was invisible," and the "touching of the lips never became the culturally encoded action. The extreme example of this aversion towards kissing in Asian societies is the fact that instead of kissing, Manchu mothers used to show affection for their children by performing fellatio on their male babies, placing its penis in their mouths and stimulating it, since it was not considered a sexual act, while the Manchu regarded public kissing with revulsion, which was considered sexual.

In the Philippines, cheek kissing or beso is a common greeting. The Philippine cheek kiss is a cheek-to-cheek kiss, not a lips-to-cheek kiss. The cheek kiss is usually made once (right cheek to right cheek), either between two women, or between a woman and a man. Among the upper classes, it is a common greeting among adults who are friends, while for the rest of the population, however, the gesture is generally reserved for relatives. Filipinos who are introduced to each other for the first time do not cheek kiss unless they are related.
In certain communities in Indonesia, notably the Manado or Minahasa people, kissing on the cheeks (twice) is normal among relatives, including males.

In Armenia both women and men show physical affection with friends of both the opposite and the same sex in public. The traditional greetings consists of shaking hands and kissing three times on alternate cheeks. In Azerbaijan men greet each other with a handshake and a kiss on the cheek. Women hug and kiss each other once on the left cheek. Azeri women do not generally shake hands among themselves. In Georgia both men and women may kiss one another on the cheek in public places while greeting each other. However kissing on the lips and intimate hugging in public are frowned upon. 

In Muslim societies world over, kissing on the lips in public is a taboo and is punishable by law. However cheek kissing in the Arab world is relatively common, between friends and relatives. Cheek kissing between males is very common. However, cheek kissing between a male and female is usually considered inappropriate, unless within the same family; e.g. brother and sister, or if they are a married couple but even that is banned in some Muslim countries. Some exceptions to this are Lebanon and Syria, Libya, Egypt (not any more with the ISIS in control) where cheek kissing is a common greeting between unrelated males and females in most communities, and the Lebanese custom has become the norm for non-Lebanese in Lebanese-dominated communities of the Arab diaspora. Normally in Lebanon, the typical number of kisses is three: one on the left cheek, then right, and then left between relatives.

Cheek kissing in Turkey is also widely accepted in greetings. Male to male cheek kissing is considered normal in almost every occasion, but very rarely for men who are introduced for the first time. Some men hit each other's head on the side instead of cheek kissing, possibly as an attempt to masculinize the action. Cheek kissing between women is also very common, but it is also very rare for women who are introduced for the first time. A man and a woman could cheek kiss each other for greeting without sexual connotations only if they are good friends or depending on the circle, the setting, and the location like in big cities.

I have no information about the attitude towards kissing in various African tribal group and among the nativ American tribal groups both in north and south America. All I could find are few scetchy comments saying that the kissing was not common. I would really appreciate any additional info on this.

Even in Europe the attitude towards kissing varies widely. Even though according to the popular culture in Europe kissing in public is "cool", if we want to see the real attitude towards kissing in Europe, we have to look at the attitude towards ritual cheek kissing. Cheek kissing is a ritual or social kissing gesture to indicate friendship, perform a greeting, to confer congratulations, to comfort someone, to show respect, or to indicate sexual or romantic interest. Cheek kissing is very common in Southern, Central and Eastern Europe, the Mediterranean but totally uncommon in North Western Europe.

In Ukraine, Russia, Belorussia when female friends meet, they kiss on the cheek three times, starting with the left and then alternating. The same was common for close male friends, but this custom is now dying and men may pat each other on the back and hug but rarely kiss. In Czech republic and Slovakia greeting with a kiss on each cheek is common, but usually only among friends. Otherwise just a handshake is used. In Romania close friends may kiss and hug each other when they meet. When kissing, they kiss each other twice, once on each cheek starting with the left cheek. In Hungary close friends also kiss and hug each other when they meet, but the most common way is to kiss from your right to your left. 

In the Balkans, among the Serbs and Croats, cheek kissing is very commonplace, with your nationality being ascertainable by the number of kisses on each cheek. Typically, Croats will kiss once on each cheek, for two total kisses, whereas Serbs will kiss three times, typically starting at the right cheek. In Serbia and Montenegro, it is also not uncommon for men to kiss each other on the cheek three times as a form of greeting, usually for people they have not encountered in a while, while male-female and female-female kissing is also standard.

Bulgarians practice cheek kissing far less than Serbs and Croats. Cheek kissing is usually seen only between very close relatives or sometimes between close female friends.

In Albania, men shake hands when greeting one another. Depending on how close the men are with each other, a kiss on each cheek may be common as well. When a man meets a female relative, a kiss on each cheek, or two per cheek,  is common. With friends or colleagues, normally a light handshake will do. Women may shake hands or kiss each other on both cheeks.

In the Mediterranean Europe, cheek kissing is a standard greeting between friends or acquaintances. In general, men and women would kiss and women will kiss women. Men kissing men varies depending on the country and even on the family, in some countries (like Italy) men will kiss men; in others only men of the same family would consider kissing. It may also depend on the part of a country and the occasion.

Greece is an example of a country where cheek kissing highly depends on the region and the type of event. For example, in most parts of Crete, it is common between a man and a woman who are friends, but is very uncommon between men unless they are very close relatives. In Athens it is commonplace for men to kiss women and women to kiss other women in the cheek when meeting or departing. It is uncommon between strangers of any sex, and it may be considered offensive otherwise. It is standard for children and parents, children and grandparents etc., and in its "formal" form it will be two kisses, one on each cheek. It may be a standard formal form of greeting in special events such as weddings.

In Portugal and Spain, usually, men only kiss women (even with strangers, although in this case a handshake is more common). In Portuguese families men often kiss men, but the handshake is the most common salutation between them. However, men kissing may occur in Spain as well particularly when congratulating close friends or relatives. Cheek to cheek and the kiss in the air are also very popular. Hugging is common between men and men and women and women; when the other is from the opposite sex, a kiss may be added.In Italy (especially in the South or the Center) it is common for men to kiss men, especially relatives or friends.

In Western Europe, the further north west you go the less people kiss in public.

A popular French joke states that you may recognize the city you are in by counting the number of cheek kisses as it varies across the country. It is very common, in the southern parts of France, even between males, be them relatives or friends, whereas in the north, it is less usual for two unrelated males to perform 'la bise'.

In the Netherlands and Belgium cheek kissing is a common greeting between relatives and friends (in the Netherlands slightly more so in the south). Generally speaking, women will kiss both women and men, while men will kiss women but refrain from kissing other men, instead preferring to shake hands with strangers. In the Netherlands and the Dutch part of Belgium usually three kisses are exchanged. The same number of kisses is found in Switzerland. In Francophone Belgium, the custom is usually one or three kisses, and is also common between men who are good friends.

Cheek kissing is not widely practiced in the United Kingdom. It is mostly used as a greeting and/or a farewell, but can also be offered as a congratulation or as a general declaration of friendship or love. Cheek kissing is acceptable between parents and children, family members (though not often two adult males), couples, two female friends or a male friend and a female friend. Cheek kissing is associated with the middle and upper classes, as they are more influenced by French culture. This behaviour was traditionally seen as a French practice. 

In Ireland we now have the same situation like in England. Cheek kissing as greeting is uncommon and up until few years ago was unheard of. But a 16th or 17th century French visitor to the city of Kilkenny described being warmly greeted and kissed on both cheeks by the ladies in all the houses he visited. A wave of Victorian puritanism accompanied the change from Gaelic speaking to English in Ireland in the 19th century. This could be the proof that it is the English cultural influence which changed the more tactile and intimate habits that the people previously had. 

The situation in other northern European countries is pretty much the same like in Britain. Cheek kissing is very uncommon except among very close friends and even then it is more a gentle hug rather than a kiss. 

So what does this show us about the actual attitude towards kissing among Europeans? It shows us that when it comes to kissing Europe is not a homogeneous cultural space. Kissing is all about letting people into your personal space, close to you. Personal space is the free space, with no other people, that people need around them to feel safe. Studies have shown that the personal space size varies from culture to culture and the further north west we go in Europe, the larger the required personal space becomes. In Europe this corresponds directly with the attitude towards kissing. Cultures with smaller personal spaces kiss more. 

Studies have shown that in humans kissing actually releases a chemical called dopamine. This is a powerful hormone that affects the same areas of the brain as cocaine does, and it can cause extremely powerful feelings of craving and desire. It also causes symptoms like lack of sleep, decreased appetite, and a higher level of energy.

Some scientists suspect that dopamine might also have something to do with why people cheat. As the novelty of kissing your partner wears off, your body actively produces less and less dopamine. Seeking to discover that hormonal rush again, some people end up wandering behind their partner’s back in search of it.

In contrast, kissing somebody you’ve been with for a long time releases oxytocin, a hormone that creates very strong feelings of peace and relaxation. Scientists emphasize the importance of couples continuing to kiss regularly, as doing so keeps the oxytocin flowing and the happiness levels high.

The cultures with smaller cultural spaces and more kissing are also more passionate and have stronger family ties. Kissing is a powerful social binding mechanism.

Ok now the question. Where does the English word kiss come from? What is its root etymology? Apparently no one knows.

The online etymological dictionary says that it somes from Old English cyssan "to kiss," from Proto-Germanic *kussjan (cognates: Old Saxon kussian, Old Norse kyssa, Old Frisian kessa, Middle Dutch cussen, Dutch, Old High German kussen, German küssen, Norwegian and Danish kysse, Swedish kyssa), from *kuss-, probably ultimately imitative of the sound.

According to Vaughn Bryant, an anthropologist at Texas A&M University who specializes in the history of the kiss, the origin of the word 'kiss' itself originated in ancient India, where “busa” or “bosa” were used to refer to kissing and from these early words, the Latin term for kiss ”basium” and the Old English words “ba” and “buss” are derived. The English word buss meaning a kiss was first recorded in 1560s is cognate with the Welsh and Gaelic bus "kiss, lip," French baiser "kiss" (12c., from Latin basiare), Spanish buz, German dialectal Buss, Croatian pusa. Vaughn Bryant says that the root of the English word “kiss” – stems from word “kus” (probably meaning kiss???) which was used in northern India. Can anyone give me more information about this word as I could not find any.

I would like to offer another potential etymology for the word "kiss".

Maybe the word for the action of kissing came from another word which was used for another similar action performed with our mouth and our tongue and which. When we kiss we pout our lips and touch the other person with our lips. We might even use our tongue to lick them while we are touching them with our mouths. What kind of actions do we perform that are similar to this? Well the most similar is tasting, slurping, sucking and feeding.

Most anthropologists suggest that kissing in humans evolved because it helps us sniff out, or taste out a quality mate. When our faces are close together, our pheromones “talk” – exchanging biological information about whether or not two people will make strong offspring. Even more information is exchanged when we actually kiss and exchange soliva. Women, for example, subconsciously prefer the scent of men whose genes for certain immune system proteins are different from their own. This kind of match could yield offspring with stronger immune systems, and better chances for survival. So kissing is strongly connected with smelling and tasting which are closely linked with feeding. We use the same procedure to find tasty food and to find "tasty" mates. As we say in English we all have different taste when it comes to potential mates...

Some anthropologists however suggest that kissing in humans evolved from the direct mouth-to-mouth regurgitation of food (kiss-feeding) from parent to offspring or male to female (courtship feeding) and has been observed in numerous mammals. The similarity in the methods between kiss-feeding and deep human kisses (e.g. tongue kiss, French kiss) are quite pronounced; in the former, the tongue is used to push food from the mouth of the mother to the child with the child receiving both the mother's food and tongue in sucking movements, and the latter is the same but forgoes the premasticated food. In fact, through observations across various species and cultures, it can be confirmed that the act of kissing and premastication has most likely evolved from the similar relationship-based feeding behaviours. But again it seems that kissing is directly linked with feeding.

So let's see if we can find root for the word kiss in words that are related to tasting, slurping, sucking and feeding.

In Slavic languages we have the whole cluster of words related to the actions of tasting, slurping, sucking and feeding which all have the root kus, which is the original Germanic root from which the word kiss developed.

ukus, okus - taste
kus - bit, mouthful, spoon
kusati - to eat, to eat with a spoon, to slurp, to bite, to chew, not pronounce words properly, like with your mouth full.
kusan - with good apetite
prikusak - breakfast
zakuska - food
kusiti, kušati, skusati, skušati, skusiti, skušiti - to taste, to try
iskušenje, kušnja - trial
iskušenīk - novice, initiate
skušnjava, kuša - devil
skušavac, skušitelj - tempter
pokus - experiment. Original experiments that people performed were all related to food. Is it edible or not. So lick it, bite it to see if its edible. The fact that the word for experiment in Slavic languages has the same root as the word for tasting shows great antiquity of this word cluster.
iskusiti - to experience
iskustvo - experience
zakusniti - give someone enough to drink. In the old times people slurped or sucked water from their hands, cups or various gourds, paunches or such containers. To be able to drink from such containers you need to pout your lips and slurp or even lap using your tongue.
kušac, kušlec - kiss (official etymology says that the Slavic word comes from the German word, but I think it is the other way round, because in Slavic languages the word is part of much wider more basic cluster which doesn't exist in Germanic languages and literally means a taste)
kuševat, kuševati, kušuvati, kušnuti - to kiss, literally to taste

Is it possible that this cluster is the root cluster from which the word *kuss-, the root of all Germanic kiss words came to Germanic languages? I believe so. We still say in English that we "eat the face off someone" when we kiss passionately.

Remember the word “kus” (probably meaning kiss???) which was used in northern India, and which was according to the Vaughn Bryant the root of the Germanic words meaning kiss? Who lived and still lives in North India? R1a people. If we look at Sanskrit we see that the words with the root kus are related to eating and to testing and examining, like in Slavic languages:

कुषति { कुष् }   kuSati - gnaw, nibble   
कुष्णाति { कुष् } kuSNAti extract, test, examine

We also have the related word

जुषते jusati - to enjoy. This word is pronounced like "djustati" but I believe that it comes from the same root "kus". I couldn't find this word in the Sankrit dictionary so I can't confirm whether it really exists or not.

This led me to the Indoeuropean root *ǵews- which means to taste, to try. The sounds K and G are interchangeable sounds, produced using the same base mouth and tongue position with a slight variation of pressure. Therefore kus and gus are just two dialectic variants, two pronunciations of the same word.

Celtic: *guso-
    Irish: togh from Old Irish do·goa from Proto Celtic to *guso (to + kuso = that + tasted, ete in South Slavic)
    Scottish Gaelic: tagh
    Gaulish: gussou (kuso, kusao = tasted, ate in South Slavic)
    Welsh: gwst (kuso, kusao + to = tasted, ate + that in South Slavic)

Italic: *gustus (kuso, kusao + to = tasted, ate + that in South Slavic)
Latin: gustus (kuso, kusao + to = tasted, ate + that in South Slavic)
    Aromanian: gustu
    Catalan: gust
    Dutch: goesting
    English: gusto
    French: goût, gout
    Friulian: gust
    Hungarian: gusztus
    Italian: gusto
    Occitan: gost
    Old French: goust
    Portuguese: gosto
    Polish: gust
    Romanian: gust
    Romansch: gust, gost
    Sardinian: gustu
    Sicilian: gustu
    Spanish: gusto
    Venetian: gusto

What is interesting is that today in English the word "gusto" means enjoyment. In Italian this word means taste (the sense), taste, flavour, gusto, enjoyment, relish, fancy, whim, (plural) preferences. This word derives from the Latin "gustus" which means to taste. This imples a pleasure which comes from tasting something (kuš, kus) finding something edible and eating it (kus). Funnilly this word made a full circle and came back to Balkan Slavic languages from Italian as "gušt" meaning pleasure. 

Germanic: *kustuz (kuso, kusao + to = tasted, ate + that in South Slavic)
    Old English: ċēosan; costian, costnian (kus + (to) + je = tasted, ate + that + is in South Slavic. Basically chosen (to be eaten))
    English: choose; costen (kus + (to) + je = tasted, ate + that + is in South Slavic. Basically chosen (to be eaten))
    Old High German: kiosan; kostōn (kus + (to) + je = tasted, ate + that + is in South Slavic. Basically chosen (to be eaten))
    German: kiesen; kosten (kus  + je = tasted, ate + that + is in South Slavic. Basically chosen (to be eaten))
    Gothic: kiusan (kus + je = tasted, ate + that + is in South Slavic. Basically chosen (to be eaten))
    Frankish: *kausjan (kus + je = tasted, ate + that + is in South Slavic. Basically chosen (to be eaten))
   Old French: choisir; chois
   French: choisir; choix
   English: choice

We also have Ancient Greek: γεύω (geúō) which I believe comes from another Indoeuropean root *h₁ed- meaning to eat. (jeo in South Slavic, meaning ate. Basically chose it and ate it). I believe that Kurdish: çêj (chey) - taste also comes from this root. (jeo je in South Slavic meaning he did eat. Basically he did chose it and he did eat it).

Modern English word "choose" derives from the root gus and is an example of the sound change that transformed k into g and then into ch. The same sound change i believe happened in this Sanskrit word:

चूषति { चूष् }   cUSati - suck

This word is pronounced like "chushati" but I believe that it was originally kusati and that it comes from the same root as the other kus words, because it also describes kissing like action used in feeding. 

In the end I would like to talk about the two "root" kiss words: "bus" and "kus". These "root" words "kus" and "bus" are actually not the root words at all. They can both be built using other even more primitive Slavic base word. What this means is that these words were once sentences. The meaning of these two words can derived from the sum of the meanings of the words from the original sentences. These sentences were eventually shortened and fused into acronyms because they were used so much and so often that people didn't need to use the full sentence any more to deduce the meaning.

So what were these original sentences from which the words "kus" and "bus" were derived?

Let's start with the word "kus".

In Serbian the word "k", "ka" means towards. 

In Serbian the word "us" is the root for words usta = mouth, usna, usma = lip, osmeh, osmej, usmej = smile. Actually the English word "smile", which means "to laugh, to be glad", has no positive root etymology. The official etymology says that it comes from an imaginary Indoeuropean root "(s)meyh₂" which has these descendants:

Latvian: smieties - to lough
Lithuanian: smeju - to lough
Old Norse: smila - to smile (from which smile comes from)
Sanskrit: स्मयते (smayate) - to smile, laugh
Slavic: smej, smeh - smile, laugh

Balto Slavic languages are the only ones which have the full base etymology for this word cluster. Slavic word "mio", "mil" means glad, pleased. The sign that someone is pleased is that he smiles. Smiling person is pleased, he is with gladness, with pleasure. smil = s + mil = with + pleased. The Slavic word "milost" means grace, mercy, favor, lovelyness. This is expressed shrough smile. The expression "smilovati se" means to have mercy, to be with mercy which is again expressed through a smile....

 From this we have s + mio  + je = with + pleasure + is = smij = laugh, smile and s + mil + je = with + pleasure + is = smile. This suggests that the old Norse word "smila" and subsequently the English word "smile" are borrowing from Balto Slavic languages.

Back to the root word "us" - mouth. The meaning of the root word us is derived from us = u + s(e) = in, into + self = mouth. Mouth is the entrance into self. This is where drink and food and air enter the body. 

So the word kus, the root word from which the word kiss was derived gets its meaning from: kus = k(a) + u + s(e) = towards + in, into + (my) self = bring towards mouth, into the mouth = taste, eat

Now let's have a look at the word "bus".

In Serbian the word g, ga is the word used for pointing towards something, so it has a similar meaning as k, ka....

Serbian word guša means throat, the entry channel into the body which lies behind usna, usma (lip) and usta (mouth). This is where things that go into the mouth eventually disappear. 

guša - g + uš + a = direction, towards + mouth = throat. Both g and š are hardened versions of k and s. The fact that we have both kusiti and kušiti meaning to experience, to taste, means that s and š are basically interchangeable, which is also the case in many other South Slavic words.

When things get stuck inside your guša (throat) you start to guši (choke). 

There are several sounds made that can be made with closed lips. 

M - the root of the word mama
B - the root of the word baba, baby
P - the root of the word pouting

The online etymological dictionary has this to say about the origin of the word "pout" which means: One's facial expression when pouting. First recorded in the early 14c., of uncertain origin. Perhaps from Scandinavian (compare Swedish dialectal puta "to be puffed out"), or Frisian (compare East Frisian püt "bag, swelling," Low German puddig "swollen"); related via notion of "inflation" to Old English ælepute "fish with inflated parts," and Middle Dutch puyt, Flemish puut "frog," from hypothetical PIE imitative root *beu- suggesting "swelling"

This is pouting. It is sticking your lips out like this:

The word is actually a direct cognate with Slavic word puć, pronounced putj which means to pout. This word is onomatopoeic and comes from the sound produced by pouting and sucking or kissing "pu" and the word "to" meaning it. put = pu + to = stick out + that + pout. Everyone pouts as a baby while they are sucking on their mother's breasts and the sound they are making while sucking is pu pu pu (air being sucked in). This is the same sound made while kissing (air being sucked in) and the same sound made by blowing (air being pushed out) and the same sound made by spitting (air being pushed out). 

The word "puć" is just one of the many Slavic words related to pouting: 

pusa - kiss
pusica - a bad tempered woman, which easily blows her top, which huffs and puffs
púšnja - anger
puhati - blow. The same position of the lips is used. The word comes from pu (pout) and ha (breathe out). Interestingly another recorded version of puh meaning blow is pusati. This is the same root pus found in the word pusa (kiss). This shows that both words puh and pus are built on the same older root pu meaning to pout. Another version of this word is puktati, which shows that k and h are interchangeable. This word is related to English puff which comes from the Old English pyffan "to blow with the mouth" and which comes from pu + fff, basically a sound of blowing with pouted lips. 

puhavica, puhalca, puhavac, puhara - puffball mushroom

This mushroom is full of spores and when if pressed when ripe will puff, puh out a cloud of spores. The spores will be blown out through a pre-formed hole (ostiole) which looks very much like a pouted mouth. 

puhtati - boil, gush out.
puškajica - fish air bladder
puhălica, puhaljka, pušaljka - pipe used to blow air into the furnace
puvati, pušati, pušiti - fart but also talk a lot and show off, to inflate, blow up your chest, but also to let the steam out which is related to spew
pljuv - spit
puhojak - pimple, boil, pustule (no picture needed to illustrate why)
puhoc - owl, cognate with Polish "puchacz" and Rusian "pugač". 

So what is the base etymology of the word bus from which the other word for kissing came from? 

It actually comes from pus = p + us = pout + mouth = for sucking, slurping, kissing. Why is it not possible that the root word is bus? Because when you are sucking the air in, like while sucking, slurping or kissing, you can't make the sound b, you can only make the sound p if your lips are pouted out. So if the word is onomatopoeic, then it had to be pus. The bus is the later development.  

So to conclude:

I believe that the word "kiss" comes from the ancient word cluster related to eating, tasting, choosing, sucking, enjoying, kissing which probably comes from the language of the R1a tribes of Evroasia. I believe that this is an ancient word cluster, as it describes the original development of the actions of choosing, experimenting and testing through the action of tasting, checking the things to see if they are edible or not. This word cluster seems to have been preserved the best in Slavic languages, and the words from the Slavic word cluster can be used to build both "root" words "kus" and "bus" and all the word derived from these "root" words found in other Indoeuropean languages related to kissing, choosing, testing, enjoying. This could indicate that all these words were borrowing from Slavic languages, or proto Slavic R1a tribal language.

I would like to finish this post with one of my favorite kissing images, Klimt's kiss:

and the link to one of my favorite songs about kissing: Kiss Me by Sixpence None The Richer. Enjoy. 

Please let me know what you think. I certainly had fun writing this.


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  2. Being Dutch myself, I wondered about goesting [in your paragraph about "to taste, to try"]. That's a typical Flamish word, not Dutch. And it means: longing for ... Mostly something to eat, but a missed person and/or sex is possible too.
    Thereabove the word "zoen"/"zoenen" is in Dutch at least as much in use as "kus"/"kussen". As my dictionary says: an old word coming from "verzoenen" [to reconcile] as in sône [old Dutch] and suona [old high German]; possible related to Norse svaana [to make calming down] by old Dutch swoene / old German swône.
    And by the way, Dutch "kussen" isn't only to kiss, but a pillow too :)

  3. In Albanian it's "puth / puthje", this could help.