Hello, my language friends! It’s Tuesday again and this means, you guessed it, another fun etymology!
Today’s word is “moon”.
Ah, the Moon. If the Sun is the originator of all life and movement on Earth, the Moon is certainly the great timekeeper. Various animal species use its light to time their reproductive cycles, and, since time immemorial, humans have used its convenient phase cycle to determine where they were in time. It’s also the closest astronomical body to Earth, and our greatest companion. Countless poems have been written of its beauty, and its pockmarked face is a constant friend in the sky: Europeans saw a man looking down at them in the patterns of craters and dry lava seas; the Chinese a bunny zealously working on the elixir of immortality.
From its use as time measurer, the Moon gets its name: it comes from Old English “mona”, from Proto-Germanic “*monan”, itself from Proto-Indo-European “*menses-“, which means “a measure of time”, and is the same root that gave us our word “month”. The ultimate root is PIE *me-, ‘to measure’, which arrived to English also as the word “meter”, through Ancient Greek.