1774, "glacier humped like a hill;" 1820 as "detached piece of a glacier or ice pack at sea," partial loan-translation of Dutch ijsberg, literally "ice mountain," from ijs "ice" (see ice (n.)) + berg "mountain" (from PIE root *bhergh- (2) "high," with derivatives referring to hills and hill-forts.). Similar formation in Norwegian isberg, Danish isbjerg.
Earlier English terms were sea-hill (1690s), island of ice (1610s). Phrase tip of the iceberg in a figurative sense (in allusion to most of it being unseen underwater) first recorded 1962. Iceberg lettuce attested from 1893, apparently originally a trade name.
updated on October 13, 2017