Spring Word Origins

The national game of the United States, baseball, is a more complicated variety of the English game rounders. The word baseball is formed from base + ball, so called from the four bases that are the boundaries of the infield and the circuit run by a player after hitting the ball. It is first attested in writing by Jane Austen in Northanger Abbey (1815), when she wrote about New England colonists playing a version of rounders in the 1700's.

Bulb first meant 'onion' and evolved to mean the underground spheroid part of the onion, lily, or similar plants. The word came into English via Latin bulbus from a Greek word bolbós meaning 'onion, bulbous root'.

Chipmunk (also chipmuck) is an American English word, first written chitmunk, that was borrowed from Algonquian atchitamon, meaning 'one who descends trees headlong'. It is a species of ground squirrel and has the synonyms chipping squirrel, hackee, and striped squirrel. The first record of the word in writing is around 1841, though chitmunk was written about in 1832.

The early Spring flower, daffodil, is a variant of affodill, borrowed from Latin affodillus and asphodelus, from Greek asphodelos. The initial added 'd' has not been explained, but could be related to the d' or de 'the' in French. This flower is also playfully called the daffadilly. Though the daffodil was originally the asphodel, there was some controversy among botanists and the affodil was designated as part of the Asphodel species and the daffodil as part of the Narcissus but, later, affodil was changed to asfodyl/asphodel to finalize the distinction. What we now call the daffodil is the Yellow Narcissus.

An equinox, literally "equal night" from Latin aequinoctium, occurs twice a year when the Sun crosses the equator and day and night are equal in length - Spring and Autumn. The vernal equinox, marking the beginning of Spring in the Northern Hemisphere, occurs about March 21, when the Sun moves north across the celestial equator. The autumnal equinox falls about September 23, as the Sun crosses the celestial equator going south.

The word flower (first flur) came from Latin florem which may have had an Aryan root. The spelling changed to flower around the mid-14th century. However, it was also spelled flour, which caused some confusion with the milled grain. Flour is taken from the French fleur de farine, literally 'the flower, or finest, of the meal (of grain)'.

Garden was borrowed from French and started in English as gardin. That word ultimately came from Gothic gard-s, which is of Germanic origin.

The lilac shrub, cultivated for its fragrant blossoms, came into English in 1625, borrowed from French but traced back to Persian nilak and nil 'blue, indigo'. Lilac also describes a pale pinkish-purple color.

March mad is an obsolete term meaning 'being mad as a March hare' since during March (the breeding season) hares are wilder than at other times; hence the proverbial saying. The term March Madness was first used in 1963 in reference to humans. By 1991, it was used in the San Francisco Chronicle, "The nation is now in the middle of 'March madness', that time of year when the NCAA basketball tournament takes place."

The Spanish word primavera literally means 'Spring' and first referred to a tree native to Mexico and Central America, so called for its early flowering. The word ultimately derives from Latin primus 'first' and ver 'Spring'. The Italian culinary term primavera is short for alla primavera 'in the style of springtime', which denotes anything served with a mix of fresh Spring vegetables, such as asparagus, broccoli, carrots, peas, peppers, or zucchini.

Rain hearkens to Gothic rign, probably ultimately from Proto-Germanic rezna-. This word for the condensed vapor of the atmosphere was first attested in English c 825. The word rainbow was first used c 1250, raindrop around 1400, rainstorm in 1816, rainy about 1834, and rainfall in 1854.

Robin is actually a shortened form of Robin redbreast, borrowed as a diminutive or familiar form of the personal name Robert from French. Robin was written about in English in 1549.

The original English word for the season Spring was 'lent' and this was replaced by Spring only in the 16th century, based on the notion of something beginning or rising, like water 'springs' from the ground.

Thaw was first used as a verb in English as 'the melting of a frozen liquid or substance', having come from the Scandinavian languages, Old Norse, Norwegian, Swedish, and Danish. A form of this word was first attested c 1000.

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