The origin of the word green didn't take the twisting linguistic road some color names take to their modern meaning. The English word for green remains remarkably close to its original spelling and meaning.
We often connect the color green to life, youth, and vitality—that’s exactly what ancient cultures thought, too. The word got its start with the Proto-Indo-Europeans, a loose collection of tribes that was likely among the earliest agricultural communities. They used the word gro- to mean to mean, well, grow.
The word didn’t change much with the rise and fall of cultures. The West Germanic people, who lived primarily in northern Europe, used the word gronja. Even today, languages derived from West Germanic are rich in similar words, from the modern German grun to the Dutch groen.
When German tribes called the Saxons invaded England during the Dark Ages, the word once again changed—this time to grene, an Old English word that looks almost identical to the modern term.
So the next time you use green to brighten up a room or think of new life when you see the color, you’re not only speaking like your ancestors, you’re thinking like them, too.
Feature Image Credit: Kate Smith
Please log in again. The login page will open in a new tab. After logging in you can close it and return to this page.