I'm feeling nautical this week, so let's explore words related to the four winds and storms:
Tempest, from Old French tempeste (French: tempête), from Latin tempestas (“storm”), from tempus (“time, weather”), is apparently a storm with severe winds.
Hurricane, from Spanish huracán, ultimately from the name of the Taino storm god Juracán whom the Taínos believed dwelled on El Yunque mountain and, when he was upset, sent the strong winds and rain upon them. This one is pretty cool!
Cyclone, from Ancient Greek, from either κύκλος (kúklos, “circle, wheel”) or κυκλόω (kuklóō, “go around in a circle, form a circle, encircle”). This means a system off winds rotating around a low pressure system.
Typhoon probably ultimately of Sinitic origin, Mandarin 大风 (dàfēng, “big wind”), Cantonese 大風 (daai6 fung1, “big wind”), via Arabic طوفان (ṭūfān), Hindi तूफ़ान (tūfān), and Persian توفان (tufân). Ancient Greek Τυφῶν (Tuphôn, “Typhon, father of the winds”) is unrelated but has secondarily contaminated the word.
Ha, "big wind"! I love it! But seriously, I'd have sworn this was Greek in origin. Fascinating.
What about the four winds, then? They apparently go back to ancient Greece mythology and the Anemoi (greek for winds). The four main ones were:
Boreas (Septentrio from septum triones=seven oxen, the stars in Ursa Major in Latin) was the north wind and bringer of cold winter air. His name meant "North Wind" or "devouring one," and he was often depicted as a winged old man with shaggy hair, holding a conch shell and wearing a billowing cloak. The Greeks believed that his home was in Thrace, and Herodotus and Pliny both describe a northern land known as Hyperborea "Beyond the North Wind" where people lived to an old age in complete happiness.
According to Wikipedia, the etymology of Boreas in uncertain: theories include "boros", an old variant of "oros" (Greek for "mountains", which were to the north geographically), or "boros" meaning "voracious". There's also a phrase ἀπὸ τῆς βoῆς ("from the roar"), that could refer to its violent and loud noise
Zephyrus meaning from the west (zóphos, “darkness, west”)(Favonius, "favourable" in Latin) was the west wind, the messenger of spring, and the gentlest of the winds.He wa said to be the husband of Iris, the goddess of the rainbow. He apparently also had a love triangle with Boreas and a goddess called Chloris, and also a good-looking, athletic Spartan prince named Hyacinth and the god Apollo. When Apollo won, Zephyrus caused the boy's seat by a falling discus, and Apollo created the hyacinth flower from his blood. Gotta love those Greeks, right?
Notos "notios" "moist", a reference to the warm rains and storms brought from the south (Auster, from Proto-Indo-European *h₂ews- (“east”)) was the south wind and bringer of late summer storms.
Eurus from brightness Eos was the goddess of dawn, perhaps the same root (Subsolanus in Latin, something about under the sun, maybe? I couldn't find an exact etymology for this.), the east wind, was thought to bring warmth and rain, and his symbol was an inverted vase, spilling water.