Word Origin & History
O.E. singan "to chant, sing, tell in song," also used of birds (class III strong verb; past tense sang, pp. sungen), from P.Gmc. *sengwanan (cf. O.Fris. sionga, M.Du. singhen, O.H.G. singan, Ger. singen, Goth. siggwan, O.N. syngva, Swed. sjunga), from PIE base *sengwh- "to sing, make an incantation."
No related forms in other languages, unless perhaps it is connected to Gk. omphe "voice" (especially of a god), "oracle;" and Welsh dehongli "explain, interpret." The typical IE root is represented by L. canere (see chant
). Other words meaning "sing" derive from roots meaning "cry, shout," but Ir. gaibim is lit. "take, seize," with sense evolution via "take up" a song or melody. The criminal slang sense of "to confess to authorities" is attested from 1612. Singsong (adj.) is first recorded 1734, from earlier use as a noun (1609).