Monday, August 8, 2016

The Etymology of the Olympics: Part 2

Before the weekend, we started looking at the etymologies of Olympic events. Today we'll finish up with the remaining events.

Pentathlon

Much like the Olympics themselves, this term has Greek origins. Since the pentathlon includes five events, it's a merger of the Greek word pente (meaning "five") and athlon (meaning "contest"). However, it used to be called the pentathlum, using the Latin name.

Rowing

This event gets its name through Proto-Germanic roots and lent itself to a variety of Northern European languages. When it arrived in Old English, the verb "to row" was rowan.

Rugby

Like "badminton", this sport gets its name from where the sport was first played. Rugby should really be called "rugby football". Rugby is a town in Warwickshire, England, if you were wondering.

Sailing

Like rowing, this sport's name also originates from Proto-Germanic. In Old English, the word was seglinge, but became sailing when the Old English word for "sail" changed.

Shooting

Shooting comes from Proto-Indo-European roots, and was scotung in Old English before referring to the sport as of 1885.

Swimming

Interestingly, the verb "to swim" was swimman in Old English, but "swimming" comes from making "swim" a verbal noun.

Taekwondo

Like judo, taekwondo is a way of doing something. In Korean, do is "a way or manner", tae means "to kick", and gwon means "to punch", so taekwondo is literally "the way of kicking and punching".

Tennis

Tennis comes from French; Old French, to be precise. In fact, it comes from the Old French verb tenir, which means to hold, receive, or take. The imperative form of this verb was tenez, which entered Middle English as tenetz and tenes. This evolved into the "tennis" we know today.

Triathlon

Remember pentathlon? The term triathlon is almost the same, but with pente being replaced by tri, meaning three, instead of five. It only has three events, rather than five.

Volleyball

The word volley comes from Latin volare, meaning "to fly", and then French volée. It eventually referred to the act of volleying the ball in tennis in the mid-19th century before combining with the word "ball" to give us the term "volleyball" that we use today.

Water Polo

The word for the game "polo" came from the Balti word for "ball", polo. Polo was played in Asia long before it made its way to England and was adapted for the water, at which point it became known as water polo.

Wrestling

Wrestling came from the Old English term wræstlung, while referring directly to the sport itself was the verbal noun of wræstlian.

Well, that's the remainder of our Olympic etymologies! We hope you enjoy the games as much as we surely will.