Word Origin & History
O.E. norð, from P.Gmc. *nurtha- (cf. O.N. norðr, O.Fris. north, M.Du. nort, Du. noord, Ger. nord), possibly ult. from PIE *ner- "left," also "below," as north is to the left when one faces the rising sun (cf. Skt. narakah "hell," Gk. enerthen "from beneath," Oscan-Umbrian nertrak "left"). The
same notion underlies Ir. tuaisceart "north." The usual word for "north" in the Romance languages is ultimately from English, cf. O.Fr. north (Fr. nord), borrowed from O.E. norð; It., Sp. norte are borrowed from O.Fr. North-easter "wind blowing from the northeast" is from 1794. North American first used 1766, by Franklin. Northwest Passage first attested 1600. Northerner in U.S. geo-political sense is attested from 1831. Northern lights "aurora borealis" first recorded 1721. North Star "Pole Star" is M.E. norþe sterre (1398, cf. M.Du. noirdstern, Ger. nordstern).