Word Origin & History

archaic name for the Black Sea, from L. Pontus Euxinus, from Gk. Pontos Euxenios, lit. "the hospitable sea," a euphemism for Pontos Axeinos, "the inhospitable sea." According to Room, The O.Pers. name for the sea was akhshaena, lit. "dark," probably in ref. to the sudden, dangerous storms that make the
sea perilous to sailors and darken its face. The Greeks took this untranslated as Pontos Axeinos, which was interpeted as the similar-sounding Gk. word axenos "inhospitable." Thus the modern Eng. name reflects the original
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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