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On multiple places on-line, including Wikipedia, there is information that Saint Isidore of Seville claimed that the name of the Roman god of wine, Bacchus, got his name from "baculus" meaning "walking stick", as drunk people need a walking stick to walk.

An idea of the quality of Isidore's etymological knowledge is given by Peter Jones: "Now we know most of his derivations are total nonsense (eg, he derives baculus, 'walking-stick', from Bacchus, god of drink, because you need one to walk straight after sinking a few)".
Etymologiae (Wikipedia)

It's a lovely story to tell, but is that true? I can't find anything like that in the original works of Isidore of Seville. The only thing I could find Isidore of Seville wrote about the name "Bacchius" is the following:

Bacchius appellatus est eo, quod eo pede Bacchia, id est Liberi sacra celebrabantur.
Isidore: Etymologiae I

Most of his etymologies are in the scroll 10 of Etymologiae, but it doesn't mention either "Bacchius" or "baculus" (you can search digitally in Isidore: Etymologiae X).
So, where does that claim come from?

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  • The title asks whether Isidore claims Bacchus got his name from baculus, but the quotation in the body of your question says that he claims the baculus gets its name from Bacchus. Please clear up this discrepancy. Also please provide a translation of the Latin quotation.
    – user14111
    Nov 9 '20 at 6:08
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    Please don't cross-post the same question to multiple Stack Exchange sites. If you feel you absolute must do that, at least have the basic decency to link the questions together so that answers don't get needlessly duplicated between sites. Nov 9 '20 at 17:30
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The passage you are looking for is from book XX:

Baculus a Bacco repertore vitis fertur inventus, quo homines moti vino inniterentur. Sicut autem a Bacco baculus, ita a baculo bacillum per diminutionem.

It is said that the staff, baculus, was invented by Bacchus, the discoverer of the grapevine; people affected by wine are supported by it. Just as baculus is from Bacchus, so a stick, bacillum, is from baculus by diminution.

Isidore of Seville (c. 625). Etymologiae, XX.13.1. English translation by Patricia Throop (2005). Isidore of Seville's Etymologies, volume 2.

This is not to be taken seriously: modern etymologists derive baculum from a proto-Indo-European root, making it cognate with English peg.

The passage you quoted in the question is about the Bacchius, a metrical foot of three syllables, short–long–long.

Bacchius appellatus est eo, quod eo pede Bacchia, id est Liberi sacra celebrabantur.

Bacchius is named because the rites celebrated to Liber, or Bacchus, were in this meter.

Isidore of Seville (c. 625). Etymologiae, I.17.11. English translation by Patricia Throop (2005). Isidore of Seville's Etymologies, volume 1.

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