Thursday, October 11, 2018

Secret Origins: October

It’s been seven months since the last installation of this, all so I could do this in October. It’s not even really that spooky. Well, maybe if you’re spooked by the tenth month being named for the number eight. That’s always bothered me. But is probably not relevant.

The word October came about in the eleventh century, so it’s pretty old. It comes from the classical Latin October mensis, eighth month, because back then the Romans had the New Year in March so October really used to be the eighth month. Octo- of course means eight, and the -ber is thought to come from -bris, a suffix.

But like many of these month names, October wasn’t always October. It replaced the Old English winterfylleþ (pronounced win-ter-fyl-eth), which refers to the winter full moon because the Anglo Saxons considered October the beginning of winter. These days, Winterfylleth is better known as a black metal band from England. So its legacy lives on.

Tony Jebson’s page on the Origins of Old English


  1. Always up to the metal bands to carry on!

  2. That's because October is the beginning of winter.
    We do our seasons all wrong, starting them in the middle and such.

  3. I like Winterfylleth so much better. (Winter? It's supposed to be 80 degrees tomorrow.)

  4. October is such a great month. Sorta an interim between stinking hot summer here and disappointing winter. October makes me happy.

  5. I'm glad they didn't stick with Winterfylleth. Would be confusing in the southern hemisphere where we're at the beginning of summer, not winter.

  6. Imagine having a stuttering problem and trying to pronounce winterfylleth.


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