- Old English norð "northern" (adj.), "northwards" (adv.), from Proto-Germanic *nurtha- (cf. Old Norse norðr, Old Saxon north, Old Frisian north, Middle Dutch nort, Dutch noord, German nord), possibly ultimately from PIE *ner- "left," also "below," as north is to the left when one faces the rising sun (cf. Sanskrit narakah "hell," Greek enerthen "from beneath," Oscan-Umbrian nertrak "left"). The same notion underlies Old Irish tuath "left; northern;" Arabic shamal "left hand; north." The usual word for "north" in the Romance languages ultimately is from English, cf. Old French north (Modern French nord), borrowed from Old English norð; Italian, Spanish norte are borrowed from French.
As a noun, c.1200, from the adverb. North Pole attested from mid-15c. (earlier the Arctic pole, late 14c.). North American (n.) first used 1766, by Franklin; as an adjective, from 1770.