Stories We Like: Novels For Language Lovers
1550s, from French Pyrénées, from Latin Pyrenæi montes, from Greek Pyrene, name of a daughter of Bebryx/Bebrycius who was beloved of Herakles; she is said to be buried in these mountains (or that the mountains are the tomb Herakles reared over her corpse). The name is said to mean literally "fruit-stone," but Room says it might be Greek pyr "fire" + eneos "dumb, speechless," which perhaps translates or folk-etymologizes a Celtic goddess name. "In medieval times there was no overall name for the range and local people would have known only the names of individual mountains and valleys" [Room, Adrian, Place Names of the World, 2nd ed., McFarland & Co., 2006]. Related: Pyrenean.