ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Word Origins From Mythological Gods

Updated on September 10, 2013
Good Guy profile image

I like to share information that makes life more joyful and meaningful. My main interests are health and general wellness in body and mind.

Aesculapius with the Rod of Aesculapius

Interesting words originating from mythological gods and goddesses

I came across one website that publishes interesting English words and their meanings. Each week it would come up with a theme and publish interesting words pertaining to the theme. In one of those weeks, the theme was “word origins from mythological gods and goddesses”.

Greek and Roman mythologies have myriads of gods and goddesses. Their ancient gods and goddesses may have fallen from grace; but have now become special meanings in the English language. Let’s take a look at some of these gods and goddesses, or rather “alien” English words. I have added to the list to make it eleven words.

Proteus

Terpsichore

Bacchus

Morpheus

Hypnos

Nemesis

Narcissus

Interesting words and their origins

There are many "alien" words that can be traced to their sources in Greek and Roman mythologies. Here are eleven interesting words related to their origins in Greek mythologies.

1. Aesculapian or Esculapian

Aesculapius was the Greco-Roman mythological god of medicine and healing. The Rod of Aesculapius is used by the medical fraternity to denote things relating to medicine. It is the iconic staff with a snake wound around it.

In the English language, “Aesculapian” when used as a noun, means “doctor”. As an adjective it means “relating to medicine”.

2. hygiene

While on this subject, Aesculapius had a daughter named Hygieia, the goddess of health, cleanliness, and sanitation. Therefore we have the noun “hygiene” meaning “a practice conducive to cleanliness”.

3.protean

This word came from Proteus who was a Greek mythological sea god who could change into different forms. “Protean” is an adjective with the meaning “assuming many forms”, “able to handle many different things”, “versatile”, “variable”.

4. terpsichorean

Terpsichore was the Muse of dancing and choral song featured in Greed mythology. She was one of the nine daughters of Zeus and was in-charge of dancing. So the word when used as an adjective, means “of or relating to dancing”. When used as noun, “terpsichorean” means “dancer”. From this Terpsichore, these words were derived; chorus, choir, and carol.

5. bacchanal

This word came from Bacchus, the god of wine in Roman mythology. The Greek had a similar god called Dionysus. “Bacchanal” is a noun, meaning “ wild and drunken celebration”, “ drunken reveler”.

6. morphean

Morpheus was the god of dreams in Greek mythology. This gives us the adjective “morphean” meaning “sleep-inducing”, “of or related to sleep or drowsiness”. The name of the drug “morphine” is derived from “Morpheus”. The idiom “in the arms of Morpheus” means sleeping.

Incidentally, the father of Morpheus was Hypnos, which leads us to the next word.

7. hypnosis

Hypnos was the god of sleep in Greek mythology. “Hypnosis” is a noun meaning “an artificially induced trance state resembling sleep, characterized by heightened susceptibility to suggestion”.

8. insomnia

The Greek had Hypnos, while the Romans had Somnus. “Insomnia” therefore means “unable to sleep”.

9. nemesis

Nemesis was the goddess of retribution or revenge. The word “nemesis” is a noun meaning “something that a person cannot conquer or achieve” or “rival whom a person cannot overcome”.

10. narcissism, narcissus

These two words were not from any god, but also from Greek mythology where the handsome Narcissus got fixated with his reflection that he turned into a flower bearing his name narcissus. And the noun “narcissism” means “a fixation with oneself”.

11. Achilles' heel

My last word is a popular term "Achilles' heel" meaning "one's greatest point of weakness". In Greek mythology, Achilles was the greatest warrior in Homer's novel "Iliad". Achilles was invincible except for his heel. And he died as a result of a small wound on his heel.

Related articles

There is another article that I wrote about personal names having fascinating meanings. If you are interested, the article is called "Personal names with meanings".

There are also names that have become special English words. Read "What's in a special name?"

What about the funny side of English like "English as it is spoken"?

By the way, the website that I mentioned at the beginning can be found HERE.

Link to my other interesting and beneficial articles

If you find this article interesting or beneficial, you may go to my "Profile" page to read my other articles by simply CLICKHERE:

By the way, the copyright to this article is owned by Good Guy. Please do not “copy and paste”! Thank you.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Writer Fox profile image

      Writer Fox 

      5 years ago from the wadi near the little river

      I don't know how you found all of these but I really enjoyed learning the origins of these common expressions.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)