Monday, November 9, 2020

Tuesday Etymology

 The word "Tuesday" is a name for the second day of the week, and refers to a weekday. It was derived from Old English words that referred to the planet Mars which, in classical mythology, was associated with war.

The word "tiu" appeared in the Germanic languages as early as 500 BC, and was borrowed into Latin where it became "dies Martis". The first day of the week has been referred to in English since about AD 700. On this day, Christians held a market and a fair (Old Norse: týr meaning 'god of trade').

The name comes from the Old English "Tiwesdæg" or Middle English "Tywesday", ... The Germanic word is connected to the Latin Mars and Greek Ares meaning war. Indeed, it was referred to as Tiw's Day due to the fact that Mars was associated with war.

The Roman god of War is similar, but it has to do with Greek mythology and the goddess Aphrodite. Mars was an agricultural deity, who presided over planting season and had little to do with war until later in Rome's history.

The name of the day was not changed from "Tuesday" to "Marsday", but this may have been because Mars did not have a strong connection with war until later in Roman history.

Mars was usually seen as the god of agricultural fertility and growth, and also of war. He is associated with springtime.

The etymology of the word Tuesday is a curious thing. The last time I checked, it was derived from Old English words Tiwesdg and Tuestu meaning 'Tiu's Day', referring to the pagan god Tiu (aka Tyr or Ziu).

The use of the word "Tuesday" as referring to a day of week had nothing to do with Julius Caesar who originally named days after numbers, not names. It was only in 1968 that Friday got changed into Fryday for no apparent reason.

Tuesday is named after a Norse deity called Týr. He was the god of law and heroic glory among other things, as well as one of two Nordic gods who survived Ragnarok (the end of the world). In deed, it was Wednesday which would have been pronounced differently to Tuesday in Old English if we were to use the modern lettering system for days.


One could say that Tuesday should be pronounced "Týr's day" given how close its spelling and pronunciation are to his name. But eventually both words got merged into a single word despite their differences.

If we were to look at the etymology of Tuesday in other languages, it becomes apparent that the word is named after a deity across many European cultures. In German, Tag der (Tyr) means "day of Týr", including both Tuesday and Wednesday. In Lithuanian, dangus týrai literally translates into "sky (dangus) of Týr".


The naming convention goes as far as Ancient Egypt where an ancient city was called Her-wer or Heru-ur meaning "House/Temple of Horus" who was likely identical to Týr.

As to why the Norse deity Týr was chosen for Tuesday, most likely it is related to his heroic roles in Norse mythology. For example, he is depicted as a man wrestling with the monstrous wolf Fenrir during Ragnarok, and though he loses the fight (and dies), this struggle buys time for other gods to escape and possibly even plan further resistance against their foes.

Also, I am not sure what it has to do with the etymology of Tuesday, but Týr is a rather popular male first name in Iceland to this day.

Finally, Týr is depicted as a handsome man with long hair and large muscles. While it can be said that the name Tuesday should refer to his role in keeping law intact (or perhaps even due to how close its spelling is to his name), he could also be called "Handsome Tyr" or something similar.

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