Etymology
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influenza (n.)

type of infectious disease, now known to be caused by a virus, usually occurring as an epidemic, with symptoms similar to a severe cold along with high fever and rapid prostration, 1743, borrowed (during an outbreak of the disease in Europe), from Italian influenza "influenza, epidemic," originally "visitation, influence (of the stars)," from Medieval Latin influentia in the astrological sense (see influence).

AN Article from Rome informs us that a Sort of Plague has broke out there, which destroys Abundance of their People, and they call it the Influenza. [The Gentleman's Magazine, April 1743]

Used in Italian for diseases at least since 1504 (as in influenza di febbre scarlattina "scarlet fever") on notion of astral, occult, or atmospheric influence. The 1743 outbreak began in Italy. Often applied since mid-19c. to severe colds.

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affluenza (n.)
in popular use from 1997 in reference to the morally corrosive consequences of wealth or the quest for it, from affluent + ending from influenza.
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flu (n.)
1839, flue, shortening of influenza. Spelling flu attested from 1893. The abstraction of the middle syllable is an uncommon method of shortening words in English; Weekley compares tec for detective, scrip for subscription.
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*bhel- (2)
Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to blow, swell," "with derivatives referring to various round objects and to the notion of tumescent masculinity" [Watkins].

It forms all or part of: bale (n.) "large bundle or package of merchandise prepared for transportation;" baleen; ball (n.1) "round object, compact spherical body;" balloon; ballot; bawd; bold; bole; boll; bollocks; bollix; boulder; boulevard; bowl (n.) "round pot or cup;" bulk; bull (n.1) "bovine male animal;" bullock; bulwark; follicle; folly; fool; foosball; full (v.) "to tread or beat cloth to cleanse or thicken it;" ithyphallic; pall-mall; phallus.

It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Greek phyllon "leaf," phallos "swollen penis;" Latin flos "flower," florere "to blossom, flourish," folium "leaf;" Old Prussian balsinis "cushion;" Old Norse belgr "bag, bellows;" Old English bolla "pot, cup, bowl;" Old Irish bolgaim "I swell," blath "blossom, flower," bolach "pimple," bolg "bag;" Breton bolc'h "flax pod;" Serbian buljiti "to stare, be bug-eyed;" Serbo-Croatian blazina "pillow."

An extended form of the root, *bhelgh- "to swell," forms all or part of: bellows; belly; bilge; billow; bolster; budget; bulge; Excalibur; Firbolgs.

An extended form of the root, *bhleu- "to swell, well up, overflow," forms all or part of: affluent; bloat; confluence; effluent; effluvium; efflux; fluctuate; fluent; fluid; flume; fluor; fluorescence; fluoride; fluoro-; flush (v.1) "spurt, rush out suddenly, flow with force;" fluvial; flux; influence; influenza; influx; mellifluous; phloem; reflux; superfluous.
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grippe (n.)
"epidemic influenza," 1776, probably from French grippe "influenza," originally "seizure," verbal noun from gripper "to grasp, hook," from Frankish or another Germanic source, from Proto-Germanic *gripanan (see grip (v.), gripe (v.)). Supposedly in reference to constriction of the throat felt by sufferers; the word spread through European languages after the influenza epidemic during the Russian occupation of Prussia in the Seven Years' War (c. 1760), and Russian chirpu, said to be imitative of the sound of the cough, is sometimes said to be the origin or inspiration for the word.
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