Etymology of the Word: Emerald

Emeralds are thought to be the oldest known gemstone to be mined, having been discovered thousands of years ago in ancient Egypt and also in Indian territory in what is now known as the Swat Valley in modern day Pakistan. The ancient Sanskrit word Marakata is recognized as the oldest known word to refer to emeralds. As emeralds made their way around the known world via the Silk Route, so did the name for them…Changing along the way to fit the languages of those ancient lands.
In time, the Greek smaragdos and Latin smaragdus emerged and formed the basis for the word in many of our modern languages. In German and Dutch the word smaragd is used. As you can see it’s hardly changed at all. In Italian they say smeraldo which is very obviously a step in between the ancient Latin and our modern words. In other parts of Europe, the word became the Middle English and Old French esmeraude which is still in use in modern day French. The English version became emerald and the Spanish derived esmeralda.

Whatever your language, it’s interesting to see the origin, evolution, and history behind the words we use. Emeralds certainly have a rich history to them, which contributes to the mystique and sense of awe that surrounds them.

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One Response to “Etymology of the Word: Emerald”

  1. […] Embassy Emeralds Weblog wrote an interesting post today on Etymology of the Word: EmeraldHere’s a quick excerptIn time, the Greek smaragdos and Latin smaragdus emerged and formed the basis for the word in many of our modern languages…. […]

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