Word Origin & History
O.E. Sæterdæg, Sæternesdæg, lit. "day of the planet Saturn," from Sæternes (gen. of Sætern, see Saturn
) + O.E. dæg "day." Partial loan-translation of L. Saturni dies "Saturn's day" (cf. Du. zaterdag, O.Fris. saterdi, M.L.G. satersdach;
Ir. dia Sathuirn, Welsh dydd Sadwrn). The L. word is itself a loan-translation of Gk. kronou hemera, lit. "the day of Cronus." Unlike other day names, no god substitution seems to have been attempted, perhaps because the northern European pantheon lacks a clear corresponding figure to Roman Saturn. An ancient Nordic custom, however, seems to be preserved in O.N. laugardagr, Dan. lørdag, Swed. lördag "Saturday," lit. "bath day" (cf. O.N. laug "bath"). Ger. Samstag (O.H.G. sambaztag) appears to be from a Gk. *sambaton, a nasalized colloquial form of sabbaton "sabbath," also attested in O.C.S. sabota, Rus. subbota, Fr. samedi. Saturday night has been famous for "drunkenness and looseness in relations between the young men and young women" since at least mid-19c. Saturday-night special "cheap, low-caliber handgun" is Amer.Eng., attested from 1976 (earlier Saturday-night pistol, 1929).