Fun Etymology Tuesday – Ocean

It’s Tuesday! Let’s continue with our words relating to nature and take a look at ocean!

A borrowed word from French, ocean starts to appear in English around the early 14th century. However, it appears that it wasn’t very popular because it had to be reborrowed in the mid-17th century.

The word comes from classical Latin Ōceanus, meaning literally the ocean but especially referred to the Atlantic. It could also be referring to a vast expense of something.

The Latin word came from Ancient Greek Ὠκεανός, which referred to a great stream or river. This refers to the “vast river” that the Ancient Greeks believed encircled the world (as opposed to Mediterranean, which comes from the Greek word μεσόγαιος, meaning situated in the middle of the land).

It was also personified as the Greek deity Oceanus. Oceanus was the son of Uranus and Gaia and husband of Tethys (who happened to also be his sister).

And that is about as far as we can track ocean (though some scholars have suggested that it is of pre-Greek origin)!

And that is our FunEty for today!