1727, from L., from Gk. Athenaion "(the temple of) Athene," in ancient Athens, in which professors taught and actors or poets rehearsed. Meaning "literary club-room or reading room" is from 1799; "literary or scientific club" is from 1864. Athene, Gk. goddess of wisdom, skills, warfare, etc., has a pre-Gk. name of unknown meaning.