Thursday, June 25, 2015

Lost In Translation: March

It’s been a long time since I’ve done the etymology of a month. I haven’t done one since…last August?! Geez, I’ve got to get it together. Or not. It’s my blog. I make the rules.

The word March showed up in the early thirteenth century, which actually puts it a couple of centuries ahead of march with a small m. It was given to us by the Anglo French marche and Old French marz, which of course was taken from the classical Latin Martius mensis, month of Mars, the Roman god of war, whose name you might recognize as a planet. I don’t know why they chose to name it after the god of war, although I find it especially interesting since the beginning of the Roman calendar used to begin in March. I guess wars are a good way to start the new year.

Now, like I said, the word March showed up in the early thirteenth century as it is now. Before the English decided to follow the calendar names used by the rest of Europe, they had another word for the month. It was hreðmonaÞ, which is pronounced “rethmonath”, with the first th pronounced soft, almost like a d and the second like the end of math. So yeah, we used to have another name for March. The monaÞ part obviously means month, but the hreð comes from either the word hreth, which means triumph (like the triumph over winter) or the Anglo-Saxon goddess Hretha.

And that’s March. Kind of an interesting one.



  1. Happy New Year! Now, let's go kick some ass.
    Sounds reasonable to me.

  2. Laughing at Alex's comment.

    I know this last March felt like a battle between winter and spring.

  3. That gives a whole new spin on the whole "beware the ides of March" thing.

  4. Ah, the Romans. Total lack of imagination, so they just take the Greek myths, change some names, and boom, there's their religion. They're just lucky they were good engineers.

  5. Well, the astrological year begins with Aries. Aries is ruled by Mars. Aries starts in the middle of March, so that makes sense. (Also, Tuesday is Mars' day, although in other languages.)

  6. Wow… That is interesting. But it makes sense (sort of).


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