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north

Old English norð "northern" (adj.), "northwards" (adv.), from Proto-Germanic *nurtha- (source also of Old Norse norðr, Old Saxon north, Old Frisian north, Middle Dutch nort, Dutch noord, German nord), which is probably an IE word, but of uncertain origin.

It might be ultimately from PIE *ner- (1) "left," also "below" (source also of Sanskrit narakah "hell," Greek neretos "deeper, lower down," enerthen "from beneath," Oscan-Umbrian nertrak "left"), as north is to the left when one faces the rising sun. The same notion apparently underlies Old Irish tuath "left; northern;" Arabic shamal "left hand; north." Or perhaps the notion is that the sun is at its "lowest" point when in the north.

The usual word for "north" in the Romance languages ultimately is from English, for example Old French north (Modern French nord), borrowed from Old English norð; Italian nord, Spanish norte are borrowed from French.

Ask where's the North? At York 'tis on the Tweed;
In Scotland at the Orcades; and there
At Greenland, Zembla, or the Lord knows where.
[Pope, "Essay on Man"]

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.

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