Word of the Day

Saturday, September 13, 2014


My wife and I were curious as to whether Anders Celsius name was original was if it had been latinized at a time when such practice was common. This is the information I found on Wikipedia (and other sources as well): Anders Celsius was born in Uppsala, Sweden on 27 November 1701. His family originated from Ovanåker in the province of Hälsingland. Their family estate was at Doma, also known as Höjen or Högen (locally as Högen 2). The name Celsius is a latinization of the estate's name (Latin celsus "mound").

The same explanation appears on Swedish Wikipedia:

Celsius, släkt härstammande från kyrkoherden i Ovanåker, Hälsingland, Nicolaus Magni Travillagæus, senare Alphtaneus (1577-1658), vars son matematikern och astronomen Magnus Nicolai Celsius, som först kallade sig Metagrius, tog namnet Celsius efter en latinisering av namnet på prästgården Högen som var hans barndomshem.

And on English Wikipedia (which is a translation of the Swedish):

The Celsius family descended from the vicar of Ovanåker parish in Gävleborg, Sweden, Nicolaus Magni Travillagæus, later Alptaneus (1577–1658), whose son, the mathematician and astronomer, Magnus Celsius, took the name Celsius which was the Latinized form of his fathers vicarage and his childhood home . 

But the thing is Latin celsus doesn't mean mound, but high, elevated, lofty, noble, as can be seen here and here. It's an adjective, not a noun. Is it maybe due to the fact that the same Swedish word hög can be an adjective meaning high and a noun meaning pile, heap? I can obviously see an analogy between highness and mounds/heaps/piles, but still.

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