Adventures in Etymology 5 – Music

Today we are looking at the origins of the word music, which is something that is quite important to me as I like to sing, play various musical instruments, and to write songs and tunes.

Music comes from the Middle English word musyke [ˈmiu̯ziːk], which was borrowed from the Anglo-Norman musik/musike, which came from the Old French musique [myˈzikə], from the Latin mūsica [ˈmuː.si.ka].

This was borrowed from the Ancient Greek μουσική (mousikḗ) [moː.si.kɛ̌ː], which means ‘music, poetry or art’, and comes from Μοῦσα (Moûs – Muse), inspirational Ancient Greek goddesses of literature, science, and the arts. Of uncertain origin, possibly from the Proto-Indo-European root *men- (to think).

Other words from the same Greek root include Muse, museum and mosaic.

In Old English the word for music (and also joy, frenzy and ecstasy) was drēam [dræ͜ɑːm], from the Proto-West Germanic *draum (dream), from the Proto-Germanic *draumaz [ˈdrɑu̯.mɑz] (dream), from the Proto-Indo-European *dʰrewgʰ- (to deceive, injure, damage). The word dream comes from the same root.


Here’s a video I made of this information:

Video made with Doodly? – an easy-to-use animated video creator [affiliate link].

I also write about etymology on the Omniglot Blog.

Here’s my latest song – Distraction – I was planning to write a song about owls, but got distracted and wrote this instead:

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