Jul 29, 2015

Etymology Expeditions: Coolest Name Ever

Paracelsus aka Philippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim.


If I ever have a kid, that's what I'm naming him.

*Husband crosses arms, shakes head.*

No? What about just 'Bombastus' then?

*Husband: facepalm.*

Okay, okay. Jeez.

Well, at least I can explore the names a little.

Paracelsus (1493-1541 was a Reneissance physician, alchemist, botanist, and occultist.  He was known for insisting on using observation of nature in medical practice, instead of just looking at ancient texts, and he was the first to note that some medical conditions have their roots in the mind, and he founded the branch of medicine called toxicology. He also gave zinc its name, zincum. So, pretty cool guy, all around.

The name "Paracelsus" means next to, or beyond, Celsus. (Referring to Roman encyclopedist Aulus Cornelius Celsus, who was known for his tract of medicine.) So, basically this name is about bragging rights. He had a reputation for being arrogant. Somehow I don't doubt it:)

Philippus comes from Philippos, meaning fond of horses, from Ancient Greek philéō, I lovehíppos, horse.

Aureolus from Latin, meaning "golden."

 Theophrastus From Latin theos from word-forming element theo "god, gods" and phrazein  "to speak" Speaks to gods?

Bombastus from bombast "cotton padding," from Latin bombax "cotton," a corruption of Latin and Greek Bombyx "silk."  From the 1580s on bombastic also referred to pompous speech, probably because of the meaning of stuffing and padding for upholstery and clothing the word had.

So "bombastic" doesn't come from Paracelsus then...

I think old Bombastus was probably quite bombastic, don't you?

von Hohenheim this is the last name, from hoch "tall, high" heim "home."

Quite a word-picture we're painting here: golden horse-lover who speaks to gods from his high home. (And then disses poor Aulus Celsus across the centuries.)

I still think it's a pretty great name.

Meanwhile, somewhere in the deep, dark recesses of my mind, there is a poor fictional character about to receive a very unfortunate, pompous name.

You might even say bombastic.


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