Etymology of weekdays

  • Thread starter waht
  • Start date
1,464
3
There is some pretty cool history behind weekdays:

The Anglo-Saxon version of weekdays:


Sunday - Sun's day (Latin 'Solis')

Monday - Moon's day (Latin 'Lunae')

Tuesday - Tiw's day. Tiw was a one-handed god associated with single combat and pledges in Norse mythology and also attested prominently in wider Germanic paganism (Replaced Latin 'Martis' for Mars)

Wednesday - Wodan's day. Wotan the Norse God (Replaced latin 'Mercurii' for Mercury)

Thursday - Thor's day (Replaced Latin 'Jovis' for Jupiter)

Friday - Frigg's day. Frigg or Freya was a Norse Goddess. (Replaced Latin "Veneris" for Venus)

Saturday - Saturn's day (Stayed the same)


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Week-day_names#Greco-Roman_tradition
 
Last edited:
French days still has mostly Latin-Roman roots (now planets):

Dimanche - Dominicus (Lord)

Lundi - Lune (Moon)

Mardi - Mars

Mercredi - Mercure (Mercury)

Jeudi - Jupiter

Vendredi - Venus

Samedi - Sabbat (Sabbath)
 

Borek

Mentor
28,025
2,531
In Polish:

M: Poniedziałek - day after Niedziela (Sunday), something like Aftersunday

T: Wtorek - second day of the week (from "wtóry" - drugi, this word is almost not used in contemporary Polish)

W: Środa - middle day of the week (from "środek" - center)

T: Czwartek - fourth day (fourth in contemporary Polish is "czwarty", so no doubts here)

F: Piątek - fifth day (fifth is "piąty")

S: Sobota - named after Shabbat

S: Niedziela - Sunday is a day when you don't work, you don't have to do anything - "nie działać" means "don't act". Sure, "nie działać" is in Polish and word is much older, it is very similar in most Slavic languages, so the original root was present in proto-slavic language and must have been different from contemporary, but the idea was the same.
 
854
16
I don't know what the Hebrew days of the week represent.
Sunday: the first day.
Monday: day two.
Tuesday: day three.
Wednesday: day four.
Thursday: day five.
Friday: day six.
Saturday: Sabbath.

Chinese day names are inscrutable (star period means week):
Sunday: star period sun.
Monday: star period one.
Tuesday: star period two.
Wednesday: star period three.
Thursday: star period four.
Friday: star period five.
Saturday: star six.

Japanese and Korean day names were influenced by western nomenclature. They originated in China where they are no longer used.
Sunday: Sun day
Monday: Moon day
Tuesday: Fire day
Wednesday: Water day
Thursay: Wood day
Friday: Gold day
Saturday: Earth day

Vietnamese:
Sunday: lord day.
Monday: day two.
Tuesday: day three.
Wednesday: day four.
Thursday: day five.
Friday: day six.
Saturday: day seven.
 
Last edited:
516
63
There is some pretty cool history behind weekdays:

The Anglo-Saxon version of weekdays:


Sunday - Sun's day (Latin 'Solis')

Monday - Moon's day (Latin 'Lunae')

Tuesday - Tiw's day. Tiw was a one-handed god associated with single combat and pledges in Norse mythology and also attested prominently in wider Germanic paganism (Replaced Latin 'Martis' for Mars)

Wednesday - Wodan's day. Wotan the Norse God (Replaced latin 'Mercurii' for Mercury)

Thursday - Thor's day (Replaced Latin 'Jovis' for Jupiter)

Friday - Frigg's day. Frigg or Freya was a Norse Goddess. (Replaced Latin "Veneris" for Venus)

Saturday - Saturn's day (Stayed the same)


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Week-day_names#Greco-Roman_tradition
I think the other Germanic languages follow the same pattern as the English weekdays
English, apparently German and Dutch both do.

Listen
Monday Montag
Tuesday Dienstag
Wednesday Mittwoch (Formerly Wotanstag)
Thursday Donnerstag
Friday Freitag
Saturday Samstag
Sunday Sonntag

ENGLISH DUTCH
Monday maandag
Tuesday dinsdag
Wednesday woensdag
Thursday donderdag
Friday vrijdag
Saturday zaterdag
Sunday zondag
 
Last edited:

Ben Niehoff

Science Advisor
Gold Member
1,864
157
The German word for Wednesday used to be Wotanstag. It was later changed to Mittwoch ("mid-week"). Presumably people were offended by the reference to Odin or something.
 
The German word for Wednesday used to be Wotanstag. It was later changed to Mittwoch ("mid-week"). Presumably people were offended by the reference to Odin or something.
I always wondered why German out of all the Germanic languages has such a euphemistic name for the chief god's day.
I assumed it got stamped on by the church at some point.
 
882
2
Thanks for posting this! Just last week I was idly wondering about the etymology of these as my 3 year old was talking with me about what day of the week it was. He really likes to think every day is Tuesday, and really likes to argue that it is not Saturday when it is... as far as I can tell anyway.

It is kind of funny given his argumentative nature about the days of the week that Tuesday seems to be his favorite.
 

Jonathan Scott

Gold Member
2,255
961
I like the Scandinavian name for Saturday, which in the Swedish spelling is lördag, and apparently means "bath-day".
 
Español:

  1. Domingo
  2. Lunes
  3. Martes
  4. Miercoles
  5. Jueves
  6. Viernes
  7. Sabado

Same as French.
 

lisab

Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
1,832
616
I like the Scandinavian name for Saturday, which in the Swedish spelling is lördag, and apparently means "bath-day".
The full translation is "bath day, whether you need it or not"
 
Here's Old English, I'm guessing around late 10th century.

Old English
Sunday: sunnandæg: "day of the sun"
Monday: monan dæg: "day of the moon"
Tuesday: tiwesdæg "Tiw's (Tiu's) day" (this goes back nearly to proto saxon)
Wednesday: wodnesdæg "Woden's day"
Thursday: thunresdæg "thunder's day" (This predates Thor as meriting the day)
Friday: frigedæg "Freya's day"
Saturday: sæternes dæg "Saturn's day"


And of course, Ancient Greek:

Sunday: hemera heli(o)u, "day of the sun"
Monday: hemera selenes "day of the moon"
Tuesday: hemera Areos "day of Ares"
Wednesday: hemera Hermu "day of Hermes"
Thursday: hemera Dios "day of 'The God' (probably Zeus)"
Friday: hemera Aphrodites "day of Aphrodite"
Saturday: hemera Khronu "day of Cronus"

Hindi it turns out just adopted the latin system in hindi of course, and further back you run into Egypt which has 10 day weeks.
 
4,453
57
Maybe I should point to the existence of a second formal language in the Netherlands, (west)- Frisian or Frysk

with the common etomological explanations it goes like this,

Snein
Moandei
Tiisdei
Woansdei
Tongersdei
Freed
Sneon (Saterje)
 
Here's a little exotica... Haitian Creole!

dimanch Sunday
lendi Monday
madi Tuesday
mèkredi Wednesday
jedi Thursday
vandredi Friday
samdi Saturday
 

Borek

Mentor
28,025
2,531
dimanch Sunday
lendi Monday
madi Tuesday
mèkredi Wednesday
jedi Thursday
vandredi Friday
samdi Saturday
Doesn't look more exotic than French txtspk.
 
Doesn't look more exotic than French txtspk.
I was referring to the source more than the result... after all Haitian Creole is heavily influenced by French.

However, I will counter with the days of the week in Fon (gbe dialect) language which is the primary African contribution to Haitian Creole. This... is definitely exotic. (I can't find the name for saturday)


tenigbè Monday
guzangbè Tuesday
azangagbè Wednesday
nyonuzangbè Thursday
axosuzan Friday
vodungbè Sunday
 

AlephZero

Science Advisor
Homework Helper
6,953
291
Many traditions plagiarized them from Sanskrit:

Raviãra: (day of Sun)
Somavãra: (day of Moon)
Mañgalvã: (day of Mars)
Budhavãra: (day of Mercury)
Guruvãra: (day of Jupiter)
Sukravãra: (day of Venus)
Sanivãra: (day of Saturn)

But then classical Greek is only Sanskrit with poor spelling and worse grammar ... :devil:
 
854
16
Many traditions plagiarized them from Sanskrit
But not, apparently, before Sankrit plagiarized them from Greek.

wiki said:
The Greco-Roman scheme of planetary names was also adopted into Hindu astrology during the 2nd century AD. Sanskrit attestations of the navagraha "nine astrological forces", seven of which are used for day names, date to the Yavanajataka "Sayings of the Greeks", a 150 AD translation of a 120 AD Greek Alexandrian text.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Week-day_names" [Broken]
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Ben Niehoff

Science Advisor
Gold Member
1,864
157
Here's Old English, I'm guessing around late 10th century.

Old English
Sunday: sunnandæg: "day of the sun"
Monday: monan dæg: "day of the moon"
Tuesday: tiwesdæg "Tiw's (Tiu's) day" (this goes back nearly to proto saxon)
Wednesday: wodnesdæg "Woden's day"
Thursday: thunresdæg "thunder's day" (This predates Thor as meriting the day)
Friday: frigedæg "Freya's day"
Saturday: sæternes dæg "Saturn's day"
"Thor" and "thunder" are, etymologically, the same word (c.f. the German god Donner and Donnerstag). I suspect the pronunciation "Thor" is borrowed from the Old Norse "Thorr". Old Norse has a double 'r' in the nominative, which could conceivably have come from an 'n', 'd', or 'th' being assimilated into the nominative ending '-r'. (Probably NOT a 'th', though, considering other Old Norse words like "mathr" ("man")).


And of course, Ancient Greek:

Sunday: hemera heli(o)u, "day of the sun"
Monday: hemera selenes "day of the moon"
Tuesday: hemera Areos "day of Ares"
Wednesday: hemera Hermu "day of Hermes"
Thursday: hemera Dios "day of 'The God' (probably Zeus)"
Friday: hemera Aphrodites "day of Aphrodite"
Saturday: hemera Khronu "day of Cronus"

Hindi it turns out just adopted the latin system in hindi of course, and further back you run into Egypt which has 10 day weeks.
And again, the words "Zeus", "dios", and Latin "deus", "Jupiter" are all etymologically related (also Sanskrit "deva", of course). They are thought to come from PIE "*deiwos". "Jupiter" comes from PIE "*deiwos pHter", meaning "Sky Father".
 
...African contribution to Haitian Creole. This... is definitely exotic. (I can't find the name for saturday)...
How about Wolof ? It's a recognized language of Senegal, and for a while, I had the opportunity to overhear phone conversations in this language on a regular basis.

Sunday - Dibéer = ?
Monday - Altine = 2nd day
Tuesday - Talaata = 3rd day
Wednesday - Àllarba = 4th day
Thursday - Alxames = 5th day
Friday - Àjjuma = reunion day
Saturday - Gaawu = ?
Sunday - Dibéer = ?
 
How about Wolof ? It's a recognized language of Senegal, and for a while, I had the opportunity to overhear phone conversations in this language on a regular basis.

Sunday - Dibéer = ?
Monday - Altine = 2nd day
Tuesday - Talaata = 3rd day
Wednesday - Àllarba = 4th day
Thursday - Alxames = 5th day
Friday - Àjjuma = reunion day
Saturday - Gaawu = ?
Sunday - Dibéer = ?
Wow, that is one funky language!
 

jtbell

Mentor
15,353
3,076
Finnish is not an Indo-European language so its native vocabulary is completely "foreign" to a non-Finn (unless you happen to be Estonian). The days of the week are a rare exception, because they're actually borrowed from the old North Germanic ones:

Monday: maanantai
Tuesday: tiistai
Wednesday: keskiviikko (literally "middle of the week" in Finnish, like German "Mittwoch")
Thursday: torstai
Friday: perjantai (which apparently is actually related to "Friday" by way of a sound shift, because Finnish doesn't have the "f" sound)
Saturday: lauantai (like Swedish "lördag" or better, Old Norse "laugardagr", "bath day")
Sunday: sunnuntai

I can vouch for the Saturday-as-bath-day thing from personal experience. My mother's parents, who came from Finland, got together with other Ohio Finnish-Americans to form a summer-cottage colony on Lake Erie. When I was a kid, my parents and I often visited the cottage that my grandfather built there . The colony featured a communal sauna on the path down to the lake, with separate rooms for men and women, heated by a huge wood-burning oven. It was fired up once a week on... you guessed it... Saturday!
 
Finnish is not an Indo-European language so its native vocabulary is completely "foreign" to a non-Finn (unless you happen to be Estonian). The days of the week are a rare exception, because they're actually borrowed from the old North Germanic ones:

Monday: maanantai
Tuesday: tiistai
Wednesday: keskiviikko (literally "middle of the week" in Finnish, like German "Mittwoch")
Thursday: torstai
Friday: perjantai (which apparently is actually related to "Friday" by way of a sound shift, because Finnish doesn't have the "f" sound)
Saturday: lauantai (like Swedish "lördag" or better, Old Norse "laugardagr", "bath day")
Sunday: sunnuntai

I can vouch for the Saturday-as-bath-day thing from personal experience. My mother's parents, who came from Finland, got together with other Ohio Finnish-Americans to form a summer-cottage colony on Lake Erie. When I was a kid, my parents and I often visited the cottage that my grandfather built there . The colony featured a communal sauna on the path down to the lake, with separate rooms for men and women, heated by a huge wood-burning oven. It was fired up once a week on... you guessed it... Saturday!
Interesting stuff! Hungarian (Magyar) is also not an Indo-European language... in fact it's nearest relation is... Finnish! It does borrow words from Latin, some Slavic countries, but not for all of the weekdays.

Hungarian isn't simple however, but there's a fantastic Wikipedia page: http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/vasárnap#Hungarian

There's a widget that says, "Hungarian Days of The Week", and you can navigate back and forth through the weekdays.

Anways, for those just wanting a list, no explanations:
Note: "nap" means "day". Hungarian is agglutinative, so nap is always present the way "day" is in tues-day wednes-day.

Sunday: vasárnap (lit. Market-Day)
Monday: hétfő (lit. Week-Head... head of the week)
Tuesday: kedd (lit. Kedd... derived from 'Ket' which is the name for the numeral '2')
Wednesday: szerda (Borrowed from 'Sreda' of the Croatian/Serbian neck of the woods)
Thursday: csütörtök (Borrowed from Serbo-Croatian 'četvrtak')
Friday: péntek (From the Slovene 'Petek')
Saturday: szombat (From Serbo-Croatian 'subota')
 

Borek

Mentor
28,025
2,531
with separate rooms for men and women
That's the American part of the colony, I guess? From what I know in Finland they don't care about such things.
 
That's the American part of the colony, I guess? From what I know in Finland they don't care about such things.
Perhaps it's a nod to the cultural sensibilities of their new home and likely guests? I wonder...
 

Related Threads for: Etymology of weekdays

  • Posted
Replies
5
Views
2K
  • Posted
Replies
23
Views
5K
  • Posted
Replies
3
Views
2K
  • Posted
Replies
1
Views
5K
Replies
253
Views
25K
Replies
4
Views
4K

Physics Forums Values

We Value Quality
• Topics based on mainstream science
• Proper English grammar and spelling
We Value Civility
• Positive and compassionate attitudes
• Patience while debating
We Value Productivity
• Disciplined to remain on-topic
• Recognition of own weaknesses
• Solo and co-op problem solving

Hot Threads

Top