A Week of Words: Saturday Finale, Finally


By Becky Todd

The ‘A Week of Words’ series comes to an end and Becky rounds off what has been an enlightening journey for us all. Bathe in the knowledge that you know more about etymology, perhaps one of the world’s most useful and up-and-coming fields of study, than you did previously.


“How can I rejoice that Exeat that has come at last? I don’t want a lie-in and a prep-less evening!” –No-one, ever.

After reading this ‘A Week of Words’ series, I’m sure that you’re well equipped to guess that this day is named after Saturn. It is derived from the Old English, ‘Saeterdeag’, the day of the planet Saturn. And yes, you guessed it, this is a translation from the Latin ‘Saturni dies’ (‘Saturn’s day’).  Unusually, unlike any of the other names of the days of the week, the god Saturn has not been substituted for a German equivalent. This is probably because of the administrative issue that there wasn’t a clear corresponding figure to Saturn, god of agriculture and time.  However, Norse tradition has managed to maintain its hold with translations such as ‘lØrdag’ (Swedish) which literally means ‘bathday’ due to the Viking tradition of bathing on Saturdays. However the many other languages of Europe have gone with the slightly less hygienic approach and continued with Saturn, including ‘Samedi’ (French).

In short, the take-home messages for this series of articles are: first, etymology is really cool, and second, the days of the week are all named after gods, mainly Germanic.  So perhaps next time you are hurtling through the corridors to lessons, you can spare a moment to think about the gods which the names of our days derived from. Or don’t. I’m sure they won’t mind.

Photography: 1) by Sweetie187 on Flickr (CC BY 2.0); 2) by Ethan T. Allen on Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0).

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4 Responses to A Week of Words: Saturday Finale, Finally

  1. Sahaj says:

    I love you, Becky.

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