Word of the Week: Wednesday

Wednesday is a noun and defined as the fourth day of the week. First used before the 12th century, Wednesday is one of the many words in the English language that has its roots in Norse mythology. 

Interestingly, the days of the week in the English language derive from Norse mythology, unlike the days of the week in the Romance Languages, which derive from Roman mythology. This divergence is often referred to as interpretatio germanica and describes how the Germanic peoples identified and adapted Roman gods with the names of Germanic deities. According to historians, this transition occurred when both cultures came into contact around the 1st century AD.

Wednesday derives from the Nordic god Odin (also known as ‘Woden’). Odin is generally depicted as the King of the Norse gods and is associated with wisdom, healing, death, royalty, the gallows, and knowledge, to name a few. In the Romance languages the fourth day of the week derives from the Roman god Mercury. Although not a direct connection between the Nordic god Odin and the Roman god Mercury, both gods held some sway over the dead, poetry, and trickery. In Italian and Spanish, both modern day Romance languages, the word for the fourth day of the week is mercoledì and miércoles, respectively. 

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Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde
“Wednesday.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary

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