The English noun tyrant appears in Middle English use, via Old French, from the 1290s. The word derives from Latin tyrannus, meaning "illegitimate ruler", and this in turn from the Greek τύραννος "monarch, ruler of a polis". The final -t arises in Old French by association with the present participles in -ant.
Greek τύραννος is itself a loanword from a pre-Greek source, like βασιλεύς, and perhaps also ἄναξ, a loan from a superstrate semantic sphere. Speculations on Tyrrhenian origin connect the Etruscan theonym Turan for Venus (perhaps from an epitheton "*Lady", paired with Atunis "*Lord") and the ethnonym of the Tyrrhenians itself.
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Famous quotes containing the word etymology:
“Semantically, taste is rich and confusing, its etymology as odd and interesting as that of style. But while stylederiving from the stylus or pointed rod which Roman scribes used to make marks on wax tabletssuggests activity, taste is more passive.... Etymologically, the word we use derives from the Old French, meaning touch or feel, a sense that is preserved in the current Italian word for a keyboard, tastiera.”
—Stephen Bayley, British historian, art critic. Taste: The Story of an Idea, Taste: The Secret Meaning of Things, Random House (1991)
“The universal principle of etymology in all languages: words are carried over from bodies and from the properties of bodies to express the things of the mind and spirit. The order of ideas must follow the order of things.”
—Giambattista Vico (16881744)