Origin of "Meteorology" by Lyndsay Tapases - WSET.com - ABC13

Origin of "Meteorology" by Lyndsay Tapases


Meteorology is defined as the science dealing with the atmosphere and its phenomena, including weather and climate. Yes, most people know this. However, we still get asked time and time again if we "study meteors". More often than not the question is in jest, but it does raise an interesting point about the origin of the word meteorology. Since meteors are an astronomic phenomena, why is a meteorologist one who studies weather?

As with most words in the English language, the word meteor is derived from the Greek word meteoron meaning "in the sky" or "high in the sky". This word was used in ancient times to describe anything in the upper atmospher, including clouds, lightning, rain, comets, ect.

Around 340 BC, the Greek philosopher Aristotle wrote a book entitled "Meteorolgica", in which he first introduced the term meteorology (the suffix "ology" is derived from the Greek word logos meaning "knowledge"). At this point, he was still using the term to apply to both weather and astronomical phenomena. Although Aristotle's theories and explanations were almost entirely inaccurate, he did establish meteorology as an area of interest.

Now, thousands of years later, we are of course able to differentiate between meteorology and aastronomy. And just for reference, the word astronomer comes from the Greek words astron ("star") and nomos ("law"), and can thus be translated as "law of the stars". The word meteor is now reserved for any meteoroid (particles of debris within the Solar System) that enters the earth's atmosphere.


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