Adventures in Etymology – New Year

As today is New Year’s Day, I decided to look at the origins of the words new and year. Happy New Year, by the way.

Happy New Year in various languages

New [njuː/nu] means:

  • recently made, or created
  • additional; recently discovered

It comes from the Middle English newe [ˈniu̯(ə)] (new), from the Old English nīewe [ˈni͜yː.we] (new), from Proto-Germanic *niwjaz [ˈniu̯.jɑz] (new), from Proto-Indo-European *néwyos (new), from *néwos (new). [source].

Other English words from the same root include innovate, novice and novel [source].

Year [jɪə/jɪɹ] means:

  • the time it takes any astronomical object to complete one revolution of its star

It comes from the Middle English yeer/yere (year), from the Old English ġēar [jæ͜ɑːr] (year), from the Proto-Germanic *jērą [ˈjɛː.rɑ̃] (year), from the Proto-Indo-European *yóh₁r̥ (year) [source].

Words from the same root, via the Latin hōra (hour, time, o’clock, season), include: hora (hour, time, period) in Spanish, ora (hour, time) in Italian, heure (hour, time, o’clock) in French, and hour in English [source].

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 words, etymology, and other language-related topics, on the Omniglot Blog, and I explore etymological connections between Celtic languages on the Celtiadur.

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One thought on “Adventures in Etymology – New Year

  1. The Korean phease 「행복한 새해 되세요」 is not used widely, but we say 「새해복 많이 받으세요」. And it is also 「あけましておめでとうございます。」(Abbr. あけおめ!)in Japanese.

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