Etymology
(i.e. the origin and development of words through history)

Alphabetically arranged below, from 'Achilles' to 'Zeitgeist', is a growing selection of words I am finding with interesting back-stories. See the influence of various cultures, languages, mythologies and religions in shaping our words...

 

Achilles

Greek hero of the Trojan War stories, bravest, swiftest, and handsomest of Agamemnon's army before Troy, he was son of Thetis and Peleus. His name is perhaps a compound of akhos "pain, grief" (see awe) + laos "the people, a people" (see lay (adj.)); or else it is from Pre-Greek

 

apocalypse (n.)

late 14c., "revelation, disclosure," from Church Latin apocalypsis "revelation," from Greek apokalyptein "uncover, disclose, reveal," from apo "off, away from" (see apo-) + kalyptein "to cover, conceal," from PIE root *kel- (1) "to cover, conceal, save." The Christian end-of-the-world story is part of the revelation in John of Patmos' book "Apokalypsis" (a title rendered into English as pocalipsis c. 1050, "Apocalypse" c. 1230, and "Revelation" by Wyclif c. 1380).

Its general sense in Middle English was "insight, vision; hallucination." The meaning "a cataclysmic event" is modern (not in OED 2nd ed., 1989); apocalypticism "belief in an imminent end of the present world" is from 1858. As agent nouns, "author or interpreter of the 'Apocalypse,'" apocalypst (1829), apocalypt (1834), and apocalyptist (1824) have been tried.

 

banshee

(from Irish bainsídhe/beansídhe, "female fairy"), "woman of the fairies" or "...of a fairy mound". The Modern Irish word for woman is bean /bæn/ and síd(h) (or sí in modern spelling) is an Irish term referring to a 'fairy mound'. (See Sidhe.) However, in traditional Irish mythology a banshee is seen as an omen of death

 

berserk (adj.)

1844, from berserk (n.) "Norse warrior" (by 1835), an alternative form of berserker, a word which was introduced (as berserkar) by Sir Walter Scott in "The Pirate" (1822), from Old Norse berserkr (n.) "raging warrior of superhuman strength." It is probably from *ber- "bear" + serkr "shirt," thus literally "a warrior clothed in bearskin" (see bear (n.) + sark). Thus not, as Scott evidently believed, from Old Norse berr "bare, naked" and meaning "warrior who fights without armor."

 

Thorkelin, in the essay on the Berserkir, appended to his edition of the Kristni Saga, tells that an old name of the Berserk frenzy was hamremmi, i.e., strength acquired from another strange body, because it was anciently believed that the persons who were liable to this frenzy were mysteriously endowed, during its accesses, with a strange body of unearthly strength. If, however, the Berserk was called on by his own name, he lost his mysterious form, and his ordinary strength alone remained. [Notes and Queries, Dec. 28, 1850]

 

boycott

abstaining from using, buying, or dealing with a person, organization, or country as an expression of protest. (from Captain Charles Boycott, a 19th-century British land agent)

 

Brahmin (n.)

also Brahman, "member of the highest priestly Hindu caste," late 14c., Bragman, from Sanskrit brahmana-s, from brahman- "prayer," also "the universal soul, the Absolute," which is of uncertain origin. (Related to Brahma, the chief god of the trinity Brahma-Vishnu-Siva in post-Vedic Hindu religion).

 

breath (n.)

Old English bræð "odor, scent, stink, exhalation, vapor" (Old English word for "air exhaled from the lungs" was æðm), from Proto-Germanic *bræthaz "smell, exhalation" (source also of Old High German bradam, German Brodem "breath, steam"), perhaps from a PIE root *gwhre- "to breathe; smell."

 

brogues

(from bróg meaning "shoe") a type of shoe

 

bungalow (n.)

1670s, Anglo-Indian, "one-story thatched house," usually surrounded by a veranda, from Gujarati bangalo, from Hindi bangla "low, thatched house," literally "Bengalese," used elliptically for "house in the Bengal style"

 

chaos (n.)

late 14c., "gaping void; empty, immeasurable space," from Old French chaos (14c.) or directly from Latin chaos, from Greek khaos "abyss, that which gapes wide open, that which is vast and empty," from *khnwos, from PIE root *ghieh- "to yawn, gape, be wide open." Chaos (also known as Aer) is also the Roman primordial deity of void. Like their Greek counterparts, Romans preferred feminine titles and pronouns for Chaos although it is sexless being. Chaos was the first being and mother of the primageni (the primordial gods). She was goddess of air and gap.

chasm (n.)

1590s, "deep crack in the earth," from Latin chasma, from Greek khasma "yawning hollow, gulf," related to khaskein "to yawn," and thus to chaos.

 

Chiron

wisest of the centaurs, from Latin Chiron, from Greek Kheiron, which is of unknown origin; Klein compares Greek kheirourgos "surgeon."

 

chrono-

before vowels chron-, word-forming element meaning "time," from Latinized form of Greek khronos "time, a defined time, a lifetime, a season, a while," which is of uncertain origin.

[Kronos (Cronus) was the King of the Titans and the god of time, in particular time when viewed as a destructive, all-devouring force. He ruled the cosmos during the Golden Age after castrating and deposing his father Ouranos (Uranus, Sky)].

 

dig (v.)

The 20c. slang sense of "understand" is recorded by 1934 in African-American vernacular. Both probably are based on the notion of "excavate." A slightly varied sense of "appreciate" emerged by 1939.

 

Druid (n.)

"one of the order of priests among the ancient Celts of Gaul, Britain, and Ireland," 1560s, from French druide (16c.), from Latin druis, fem. druias (plural druidae), from Gaulish Druides, from Celtic compound *dru-wid- "strong seer," from Old Celtic *derwos "true" (from PIE root *deru- "tree," especially oak) + *wid- "to know" (from PIE root *weid- "to see"). Hence, literally, perhaps, "they who know the oak" (perhaps in allusion to divination from mistletoe). Anglo-Saxon, too, used identical words to mean "tree" and "truth" (treow).

 

The English form comes via Latin, not immediately from Celtic. Old English had dry "magician," presumably from Old Irish drui. The Old Irish form was drui (dative and accusative druid; plural druad), yielding Modern Irish and Gaelic draoi, genitive druadh "magician, sorcerer."

encourage (v.)

early 15c., from Old French encoragier "make strong, hearten," from en- "make, put in" (see en- (1)) + corage "courage, heart"

essay (n.)

1590s, "trial, attempt, endeavor," also "short, discursive literary composition" (first attested in writings of Francis Bacon, probably in imitation of Montaigne), from French essai "trial, attempt, essay" (in Old French from 12c.), from Late Latin exagium "a weighing, a weight," from Latin exigere "drive out; require, exact; examine, try, test," from ex "out" (see ex-) + agere "to set in motion, drive" (from PIE root *ag- "to drive, draw out or forth, move") apparently meaning here "to weigh." The suggestion is of unpolished writing.

 

fiasco (n.)

1855, theater slang for "a failure in performance;" by 1862 it had acquired the general sense of "any ignominious failure or dismal flop," on or off the stage. It comes via the French phrase faire fiasco "turn out a failure" (19c.), from Italian far fiasco "suffer a complete breakdown in performance," literally "make a bottle," from fiasco "bottle," from Late Latin flasco "bottle"

Friday (n.)

sixth day of the week, Old English frigedæg "Friday, Frigga's day," from Frige, genitive of *Frigu (see Frigg), Germanic goddess of married love. The day name is a West Germanic translation of Latin dies Veneris "day of (the planet) Venus," which itself translated Greek Aphrodites hēmera.

Compare Old Norse frijadagr, Old Frisian frigendei, Middle Dutch vridach, Dutch vrijdag, German Freitag "Friday," and the Latin-derived cognates Old French vendresdi, French vendredi, Spanish viernes. In Germanic religion, Freya (q.v.) corresponds more closely in character to Venus than Frigg does, and some early Icelandic writers used Freyjudagr for "Friday."

 

galore

(from go leor meaning "til plenty"); a lot

 

genie (n.)

1650s, "tutelary spirit," from French génie, from Latin genius (see genius); used in French translation of "Arabian Nights" to render Arabic jinni, singular of jinn, which it accidentally resembled, and attested in English with this sense from 1748.

 

genius (n.)

late 14c., "tutelary or moral spirit" who guides and governs an individual through life, from Latin genius "guardian deity or spirit which watches over each person from birth; spirit, incarnation; wit, talent;" also "prophetic skill; the male spirit of a gens," originally "generative power" (or "inborn nature"), from PIE *gen(e)-yo-, from root *gene- "give birth, beget," with derivatives referring to procreation and familial and tribal groups. Sense of "characteristic disposition" of a person is from 1580s. Meaning "person of natural intelligence or talent" and that of "exalted natural mental ability" are first recorded 1640s.

gnosis (n.)

"knowledge," especially "special knowledge of spiritual mysteries," 1703, from Greek gnosis "a knowing, knowledge; a judicial inquiry, investigation; a being known,"; from PIE *gno-ti-, from root *gno- "to know."

 

guru (n.)

1806, gooroo, from Hindi guru "teacher, priest," from Sanskrit guru-s "one to be honored, teacher," from guru- "venerable, worthy of honor," literally "heavy, weighty," from PIE root *gwere- (1) "heavy." Generalized sense of "mentor" is from 1940 (in H.G. Wells); sense of "expert in something" first recorded c. 1966 in Canadian English in reference to Marshall McLuhan.

 

hooligan

(from the Irish family name Ó hUallacháin, anglicised as O'Houlihan) one who takes part in rowdy behaviour and vandalism.

 

human (adj.)

mid-15c., humain, humaigne, "human," from Old French humain, umain (adj.) "of or belonging to man" (12c.), from Latin humanus "of man, human," also "humane, philanthropic, kind, gentle, polite; learned, refined, civilized." This is in part from PIE *(dh)ghomon-, literally "earthling, earthly being," as opposed to the gods (from root *dhghem- "earth")

 

Humility (n.)

Coming from the Latin 'humilitas', a noun related to the adjective humilis, which may be translated as "humble", but also "grounded", or "from the earth", since it derives from humus (earth). 

The word humble itself may also be related to feudal England where the lowest cuts of meat, or 'umbles' were preserved for the lower classes. The term 'humble pie', meaning to exist in a lowly station, may derive from this. 

inspire (v.)

mid-14c., enspiren, "to fill (the mind, heart, etc., with grace, etc.);" also "to prompt or induce (someone to do something)," from Old French enspirer (13c.), from Latin inspirare "blow into, breathe upon," figuratively "inspire, excite, inflame," from in- "in" (from PIE root *en "in") + spirare "to breathe"

 

jinn (n.)

(Definition: (in Arabian and Muslim mythology) an intelligent spirit of lower rank than the angels, able to appear in human and animal forms and to possess humans. e.g. "the rebellious jinn lead men astray")

1680s, djen, from Arabic jinn. A collective plural for "demons, spirits, angels;" the proper singular is jinni, which appears in English occasionally as jinnee (1840) but more frequently as genie. Similarity to genius is accidental.

 

laic (adj.)

1560s, "belonging to the people" (as distinguished from the clergy and the professionals), from French laïque (16c.), from Late Latin laicus, from Greek laikos "of or belonging to the people," from laos "people" (see lay (adj.)).

 

lay (adj.)

"uneducated, non-professional; non-clerical," early 14c., from Old French lai "secular, not of the clergy" (12c., Modern French laïque), from Late Latin laicus, from Greek laikos "of the people," from laos "(the common) folk, the people, the crowd; the military; a tribe," in the New Testament especially "the Jewish people," also "the laity," a word of unknown origin. Beekes writes that it is "most often connected with" Hittite lahh- "campaign" and Old Irish laech "warrior," but that the form "is rather Pre-Greek, and has a Pre-Greek suffix -it(o)-. In Middle English, contrasted with learned, a sense revived 1810 in contrast to expert. Laic is a more modern borrowing directly from Late Latin.

 

limbo

region supposed to exist on the border of Hell, reserved for pre-Christian saints (Limbus patrum) and unbaptized infants (Limbus infantum);" c. 1300, from Latin limbo, ablative singular of limbus "edge, border" (see limb (n.2)). In frequent use in Latin phrases such as in limbo (patrum), which is entirely Latin, but the in was taken as English and hence the Latin ablative became the English noun. Figurative sense of "condition of neglect or oblivion, place of confinement" is from 1640s.

 

mass (n.)

"eucharistic service," Middle English messe, masse, from Old English mæsse, from Vulgar Latin *messa "eucharistic service," literally "dismissal," from Late Latin missa "dismissal," fem. past participle of mittere "to let go, send" (see mission).

Probably so called from the concluding words of the service, Ite, missa est, "Go, (the prayer) has been sent," or "Go, it is the dismissal."

mind (n.)

"that which feels, wills, and thinks; the intellect," late 12c., mynd, from Old English gemynd "memory, remembrance; state of being remembered; thought, purpose; conscious mind, intellect, intention," Proto-Germanic *ga-mundiz (source also of Gothic muns "thought," munan "to think;" Old Norse minni "mind;" German Minne (archaic) "love," originally "memory, loving memory"), from suffixed form of PIE root *men- (1) "to think," with derivatives referring to qualities of mind or states of thought.

Meaning "mental faculty, the thinking process" is from c. 1300. Sense of "intention, purpose" is from c. 1300. From late 14c. as "frame of mind. mental disposition," also "way of thinking, opinion." "Memory," one of the oldest senses, now is almost obsolete except in old expressions such as bear in mind (late 14c.), call to mind (early 15c.), keep in mind (late 15c.).

 

Monday (n.)

second day of the week, Middle English monedai, from Old English mōndæg, contraction of mōnandæg "Monday," literally "day of the moon," from mona (genitive monan; see moon (n.)) + dæg (see day). A common Germanic name (compare Old Norse manandagr, Old Frisian monendei, Dutch maandag, German Montag). All are loan-translations of Late Latin Lunæ dies, which also is the source of the day name in Romance languages (French lundi, Italian lunedi, Spanish lunes)

 

naive (adj.)

1650s, "natural, simple, unsophisticated, artless," from French naïve, fem. of naïf, from Old French naif "naive, natural, genuine; just born; foolish, innocent; unspoiled, unworked" (13c.), from Latin nativus "not artificial," also "native, rustic," literally "born, innate, natural"

 

nature (n.)

late 13c., "restorative powers of the body, bodily processes; powers of growth;" from Old French nature "nature, being, principle of life; character, essence," from Latin natura "course of things; natural character, constitution, quality; the universe," literally "birth," from natus "born," past participle of nasci "to be born," from PIE root *gene- "give birth, beget."

numinous (adj.)

"divine, spiritual, of or pertaining to a numen," 1640s, from Latin numen (genitive numinis) "divine will," properly "divine approval expressed by nodding the head," from nuere "to nod," from PIE *neue- "to nod" (source also of Greek neuein "to nod;" Old Irish asnoi "to promise," adnoi "to entrust").

 

oak (n.)

"tree or shrub of the genus Quercus," Middle English oke, from Old English ac "oak tree" and in part from cognate Old Norse eik, both from Proto-Germanic *aiks (source also of Old Saxon and Old Frisian ek, Middle Dutch eike, Dutch eik, Old High German eih, German Eiche, Swedish ek, Danish eg), a word of uncertain origin with no certain cognates outside Germanic.

 

The usual Indo-European base for "oak" (*deru-) has become Modern English tree (n.). In Greek and Celtic, meanwhile, words for "oak" are from the Indo-European root for "tree." All this probably reflects the importance of the oak, the monarch of the forest, to ancient Indo-Europeans. Likewise, as there were no oaks in Iceland, the Old Norse word eik came to be used by the viking settlers there for "tree" in general.

 

person (n.)

c. 1200, persoun, "an individual, a human being," from Old French persone "human being, anyone, person" (12c., Modern French personne) and directly from Latin persona "human being, person, personage; a part in a drama, assumed character," originally "a mask, a false face," such as those of wood or clay, covering the whole head, worn by the actors in later Roman theater.

 

prayer (n.)

c. 1300, preiere, "earnest request, entreaty, petition," also "the practice of praying or of communing with God," from Old French prier "prayer, petition, request" (12c., Modern French prière), from Medieval Latin precaria "petition, prayer," noun use of Latin adjective precaria, fem. of precarius "obtained by prayer, given as a favor," from precari "to ask, beg, pray" (from PIE root *prek- "to ask, entreat").

 

From mid-14c. as "devout petition to God or a god or other object of worship;" also "the Lord's Prayer;" also "action or practice of praying."

 

propaganda (n.)

1718, "committee of cardinals in charge of foreign missions of the Catholic Church," short for Congregatio de Propaganda Fide "congregation for propagating the faith," a committee of cardinals established 1622 by Gregory XV to supervise foreign missions. The word is properly the ablative fem. gerundive of Latin propagare "set forward, extend, spread, increase" (see propagation).

Hence, "any movement or organization to propagate some practice or ideology" (1790). The modern political sense ("dissemination of information intended to promote a political point of view") dates from World War I, not originally pejorative and implying bias or deliberate misleading. Meaning "material or information propagated to advance a cause, etc." is from 1929.

 

psychedelic (adj.)

occasionally psychodelic, 1956, of drugs, suggested by British-born Canadian psychiatrist Humphry Osmond in a letter to Aldous Huxley and used by Osmond in a scientific paper published the next year; from Greek psykhē "mind" (see psyche) + dēloun "make visible, reveal," from dēlos "visible, clear," from PIE root *dyeu- "to shine."

 

robot (n.)

1923, from English translation of 1920 play "R.U.R." ("Rossum's Universal Robots"), by Karel Capek (1890-1938), from Czech robotnik "forced worker," from robota "forced labor, compulsory service, drudgery," from robotiti "to work, drudge," from an Old Czech source akin to Old Church Slavonic rabota "servitude," from rabu "slave," from Old Slavic *orbu-, from PIE *orbh- "pass from one status to another" (see orphan). The Slavic word thus is a cousin to German Arbeit "work" (Old High German arabeit). According to Rawson the word was popularized by Karel Capek's play, "but was coined by his brother Josef (the two often collaborated), who used it initially in a short story."

salvage (n.)

1640s, "payment for saving a ship from wreck or capture," from French salvage (15c.), from Old French salver "to save" (see save (v.)). The general sense of "the saving of property from danger" is attested from 1878.

 

Saturday (n.)

seventh day of the week, Old English sæterdæg, sæternesdæg, literally "day of the planet Saturn," from Sæternes (genitive of Sætern; see Saturn) + Old English dæg (see day). Partial loan-translation of Latin Saturni dies "Saturn's day" (compare Dutch Zaterdag, Old Frisian Saterdi, Middle Low German Satersdach; Irish dia Sathuirn, Welsh dydd Sadwrn). The Latin word itself is a loan-translation of Greek kronou hēmera, literally "the day of Cronus."

Unlike other English day names, no god substitution seems to have been attempted, perhaps because the northern European pantheon lacks a clear corresponding figure to Roman Saturn. A homely ancient Nordic custom, however, seems to be preserved in Old Norse laugardagr, Danish lørdag, Swedish lördag "Saturday," literally "bath day" (Old Norse laug "bath").

German Samstag (Old High German sambaztag) appears to be from a Greek *sambaton, a nasalized colloquial form of sabbaton "sabbath," also attested in Old Church Slavonic sabota, Polish sobota, Russian subbota, Hungarian szombat, French samedi.

 

shaman (n.)

1690s, "priest of the Ural-Altaic peoples," probably via German Schamane, from Russian sha'man, from Tungus saman, which is perhaps from Chinese sha men "Buddhist monk," from Prakrit samaya-, from Sanskrit sramana-s "Buddhist ascetic"

 

shampoo (v.)

1762, "to massage," from Anglo-Indian shampoo, from Hindi champo, imperative of champna "to press, knead the muscles," perhaps from Sanskrit capayati "pounds, kneads." Meaning "wash the hair" first recorded 1860; extended 1954 to carpets, upholstery, etc. Related: Shampooed; shampooing.

 

sycophant (n.)

1530s (in Latin form sycophanta), "informer, talebearer, slanderer," from French sycophante and directly from Latin sycophanta, from Greek sykophantes "false accuser, slanderer," literally "one who shows the fig," from sykon "fig" (see fig) + phainein "to show" (from PIE root *bha- (1) "to shine").

"Showing the fig" was a vulgar gesture made by sticking the thumb between two fingers, a display which vaguely resembles a fig, itself symbolic of a vagina (sykon also meant "vulva"). The modern accepted explanation is that prominent politicians in ancient Greece held aloof from such inflammatory gestures, but privately urged their followers to taunt their opponents. The sense of "mean, servile flatterer" is first recorded in English 1570s.

 

*sol- 

Proto-Indo-European root meaning "whole, well-kept." It forms all or part of: catholic; consolidate; consolidation; holism; holo-; holocaust; Holocene; hologram; holograph; insouciant; safe; safety; sage (n.1) kind of herb; salubrious; salutary; salute; salvage; salvific; salvo "simultaneous discharge of guns;" save (v.) "deliver from danger;" save (prep.) "except;" solder; soldier; solemn; solicit; solicitous; solid; solidarity; solidity; sou.

soul (n.)

"A substantial entity believed to be that in each person which lives, feels, thinks and wills" [Century Dictionary], Old English sawol "spiritual and emotional part of a person, animate existence; life, living being," from Proto-Germanic *saiwalō (source also of Old Saxon seola, Old Norse sala, Old Frisian sele, Middle Dutch siele, Dutch ziel, Old High German seula, German Seele, Gothic saiwala), of uncertain origin.

Sometimes said to mean originally "coming from or belonging to the sea," because that was supposed to be the stopping place of the soul before birth or after death [Barnhart]; if so, it would be from Proto-Germanic *saiwaz (see sea). Klein explains this as "from the lake," as a dwelling-place of souls in ancient northern Europe.

 

Sunday (n.)

first day of the week, Old English sunnandæg (Northumbrian sunnadæg), literally "day of the sun," from sunnan, oblique case of sunne "sun" (see sun (n.)) + dæg "day" (see day). A Germanic loan-translation of Latin dies solis "day of the sun," which is itself a loan-translation of Greek hēmera heliou. Compare Old Saxon sunnun dag, Old Frisian sunnandei, Old Norse sunnundagr, Dutch zondag, German Sonntag "Sunday."

In European Christian cultures outside Germanic often with a name meaning "the Lord's Day" (Latin Dominica). 

 

thunder (n.)

mid-13c., from Old English þunor "thunder, thunderclap; the god Thor," from Proto-Germanic *thunraz (source also of Old Norse þorr, Old Frisian thuner, Middle Dutch donre, Dutch donder, Old High German donar, German Donner "thunder"), from PIE *(s)tene- "to resound, thunder" (source also of Sanskrit tanayitnuh "thundering," Persian tundar "thunder," Latin tonare "to thunder"). Swedish tordön is literally "Thor's din." The unetymological -d- also is found in Dutch and Icelandic versions of the word

 

Thursday (n.)

fifth day of the week, Old English þurresdæg, a contraction (perhaps influenced by Old Norse þorsdagr) of þunresdæg, literally "Thor's day," from Þunre, genitive of Þunor "Thor" (see thunder (n.)); from Proto-Germanic *thonaras daga (source also of Old Frisian thunresdei, Middle Dutch donresdach, Dutch donderdag, Old High German Donares tag, German Donnerstag, Danish and Swedish Torsdag "Thursday"), a loan-translation of Latin Jovis dies "day of Jupiter."

Roman Jupiter was identified with the Germanic Thor. The Latin word is the source of Italian giovedi, Old French juesdi, French jeudi, Spanish jueves, and is itself a loan-translation of Greek dios hēmera "the day of Zeus."

 

Tiamat

a primordial Babylonian goddess of the ocean and personification of chaos. She gave birth to the first generation of gods, and later, she was killed by the storm god, Marduk. From her divided body came the heavens and the Earth.

 

time (n.)

Old English tima "limited space of time," from Proto-Germanic *timon- "time" (source also of Old Norse timi "time, proper time," Swedish timme "an hour"), from PIE *di-mon-, suffixed form of root *da- "to divide."

trauma (n.)

1690s, "physical wound," medical Latin, from Greek trauma "a wound, a hurt; a defeat," from PIE *trau-, extended form of root *tere- (1) "to rub, turn," with derivatives referring to twisting, piercing, etc. Sense of "psychic wound, unpleasant experience which causes abnormal stress" is from 1894.

 

Tuesday (n.)

third day of the week, Old English tiwesdæg, from Tiwes, genitive of Tiw "Tiu," from Proto-Germanic *Tiwaz "god of the sky," the original supreme deity of ancient Germanic mythology, differentiated specifically as Tiu, ancient Germanic god of war, from PIE *deiwos "god," from root *dyeu- "to shine," in derivatives "sky, heaven, god." Cognate with Old Frisian tiesdei, Old Norse tysdagr, Swedish tisdag, Old High German ziestag.

 

Uranus

first planet discovered that was not known in ancient times, named for the god of Heaven, husband of Gaia, the Earth, from Latin Uranus, from Greek Ouranos literally "heaven, the sky;" in Greek cosmology, the god who personifies the heavens, father of the titans.

The planet was discovered and identified as such in 1781 by Sir William Herschel (it had been observed before, but mistaken for a star; in 1690 John Flamsteed cataloged it as 34 Tauri)

 

volcano (n.)

1610s, from Italian vulcano "burning mountain," from Latin Vulcanus "Vulcan," Roman god of fire, also "fire, flames, volcano" (see Vulcan). The name was first applied to Mt. Etna by the Romans, who believed it was the forge of Vulcan. Earlier form in English was volcan (1570s), from French.

 

Wednesday (n.)

fourth day of the week, Old English wodnesdæg "Woden's day," a Germanic loan-translation of Latin dies Mercurii "day of Mercury" (compare Old Norse Oðinsdagr, Swedish Onsdag, Old Frisian Wonsdei, Middle Dutch Wudensdach). For Woden, see Odin.

 

Contracted pronunciation is recorded from 15c. The Odin-based name is missing in German (mittwoch, from Old High German mittwocha, literally "mid-week"), probably by influence of Gothic, which seems to have adopted a pure ecclesiastical (i.e. non-astrological) week from Greek missionaries. The Gothic model also seems to be the source of Polish środa, Russian sreda "Wednesday," literally "middle."

 

whiskey

(from uisce beatha meaning "water of life")

 

Yahweh

1869, hypothetical reconstruction of the tetragrammaton YHWH (see Jehovah), based on the assumption that the tetragrammaton is the imperfective of Hebrew verb hawah, earlier form of hayah "was," in the sense of "the one who is, the existing."

zeitgeist (n.)

1848, from German Zeitgeist (Herder, 1769), "spirit of the age," literally "time-spirit," from Zeit "time" (from Proto-Germanic *tidiz "division of time," from PIE root *da- "to divide") + Geist "spirit"