1790, shortening of aurora borealis (q.v.).
1620s, "Northern Lights," literally "northern dawn," said to have been coined by French philosopher Petrus Gassendus (1592-1655) after a spectacular display seen in France Sept. 2, 1621; see aurora + boreal. In northern Scotland and among sailors, sometimes called the dancers, pretty dancers, or merry dancers. Related: Aurora australis (1741).
"northern," late 15c., from Late Latin borealis, from Latin Boreas "north wind," from Greek Boreas, name of the god of the north wind, which is of unknown origin, perhaps related to words in Sanskrit (giri-) and Balto-Slavic (Lithuanian girė, Old Church Slavonic gora) for "mountain" (also "forest") as if "those living beyond the mountains."
1650s, "a crown," from Latin corona "a crown, a garland," in ancient Rome especially "a crown or garland bestowed for distinguished military service" (from a suffixed form of PIE root *sker- (2) "to turn, bend").
With many extended senses in botany, anatomy, etc. As a brand of Cuban cigar, 1876. The brand of Mexican pale lager beer dates from 1925. The astronomical sense of "luminous circle observed around the sun during total eclipses" is from 1809. The two "crown" constellations, Corona Borealis and Corona Australis, both are Ptolemaic.
Corona Borealis "certainly is much more like that for which it is named than usually is the case with our sky figures," according to Richard Hinckley Allen ("Star-Names and Their Meaning," 1899), and he adds that to the Greeks it was stephanos, a wreath, and from Roman times on typically it was Ariadne's Crown. To Arab astronomers, however, it was Al Fakkah "the dish" (sometimes "the pauper's dish" or "the broken dish" — Latinized as Discus parvus confractus — as the celestial circle is incomplete), a word wrestled into European languages as Alphaca or Alphecca, and used as the name of the constellation's none-too-bright brightest star.
"of or pertaining to a region, place, or point nearer the north than some other," Old English norþerna, norðerne "northern, of the north; Northumbrian; Scandinavian," cognate with Old High German nordroni, Old Norse norroenn (see north). With -erne, suffix denoting direction. Related: Northernmost.
Northerner "man from the north of England" is attested from late 13c. as a surname. In the U.S. sense "native or resident of the northern states or territories" it is attested by 1818. Northern lights "aurora borealis" is recorded by that name by 1721 (earlier north-light, 1706).