North - Etymology

Etymology

The word north is related to the Old High German nord, both descending from the Proto-Indo-European unit ner-, meaning "down" (or "under"). (Presumably a natural primitive description of its concept is "to the left of the rising sun".)

Latin borealis is from Greek boreas "north wind, north", in mythology (according to Ovid) personified as the son of the river-god Strymon, and father of Calais and Zetes; septentrionalis is from septentriones, "the seven plow oxen", a name of Ursa Maior. Greek arktikos "northern" is named for the same constellation (cf. Arctic).

Other languages have sometimes more interesting derivations. For example, in Lezgian kefer can mean both 'disbelief' and 'north', since north of Muslim Lezgians there are areas inhabited by non-Muslim (until recently) Caucasian peoples, such as Avars and Chechens; as well as pagan Turkic peoples. In many languages of Mesoamerica, 'north' also means 'up'. In Hungarian the word for North is "észak" which is derived from "éjszaka" (night) as on the Northern Hemisphere the Sun never shines from North, therefore it's a realm of night.

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Famous quotes containing the word etymology:

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