Who named Earth?

My wife was wondering this, and I can’t come up with a suitable answer. Who named Earth?
And which definition of the word came first, earth, as in a bucket of soil, or Earth, the name of our planet?

Hmmm. This is an interesting one. It’s probably safe to assume that ‘Earth’ was a name derived from ages ago when people mostly farmed all the time and just looked down and saw ‘earth’ - ie the dirt.

I’d assume that these farmers (or whoever) just said that they lived on ‘the earth’ and so as time passed by it became a popular saying. Eventually, I suppose, people just decided that they lived on ‘the earth’ and so when someone needed a name for the planet, they just called it ‘Earth’.

Sorry if that doesn’t make sense but I’ve got a cold and feel ill so I’m just typing as I think. In answer to your other question, as I said above, the definition for the soil probably came first. Please note: I said PROBABLY…

“Now be quiet before I rather clumsily knight you with this meat cleaver” - Edmund Blackadder

The OED entry for earth is preceded by the following warning:

Which I guess is pretty close to “nobody knows”.

Zogar, Supreme Commander of Intersteller Expeditions: “What did you say was the name of this planet?”

Razgor, Expedetion Intelligence Officer: “Sir, the name given to it by the natives translates to DIRT!”

Zogar: “DIRT?”

Razgor: “Yes, Sir.”

Zogar: “Let’s just skip this planet and check out the red one over there with all the spacecraft wrecks on it.”

Elmer J. Fudd,
I own a mansion and a yacht.

I think we did this one recently, although I’m too lazy to search the archive…

I have to agree with Tom.

But then, me always like to look in dictionaries. I thought that is what they are for?

1earth "erth\ noun [ME erthe, fr. OE eorthe; akin to OHG erda earth, Gk era] (bef. 12c)
1 : the fragmental material composing part of the surface of the globe; esp : cultivable soil
2 : the sphere of mortal life as distinguished from spheres of spirit life — compare heaven, hell
3 a : areas of land as distinguished from sea and air
b : the solid footing formed of soil : ground
4 often cap : the planet on which we live that is third in order from the sun — see planet table
5 a : the people of the planet Earth
b : the mortal human body
c : the pursuits, interests, and pleasures of earthly life as distinguished from spiritual concerns
6 : the lair of a burrowing animal
7 : an excessive amount of money — used with the <real suede, which costs the earth to clean — Joanne Winship>
earth•like -'lik\ adjective
on earth — used as an intensive <to find out what on earth he was up to — Michael Holroyd>

©1996 Zane Publishing, Inc. and Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. All rights reserved.

I think the sense of Earth as planet came before the sense of earth as dirt, while recognizing that it’s hard to order the senses chronologically.

Earth is akin to the old word eord, which is akin to a Norse word (don’t know the old word, but the modern Danish word is jord). There is an ancient myth about a world ash tree, Ygdrassil or Jordache, so, if the word is as old as the myth, I’d suspect it didn’t mean “dirt” back then. It wouldn’t make much sense to talk about a “dirt ash”, since whaddaya expect, most ashe trees grow in pumice?

That’s just a hunch, though.

Looking back, I think I’m full of it. If the word earth had etymological roots all the way back to Greek, and the Greek word for the big wet planet was Gaea or geo or whatever, then our word for earth might well be derived from the Greek word for dirt. Handy’s link tells us the Greek word is era, but that doesn’t tell me much.

Anyway, I just thought of the possibility that Gaea/geo is a “parent word” of the whole erda/jord/yg thing anyway. I mean, with hard "g"s becoming “y”-sounds becoming “e”-sounds, and all…?

I don’t want to make people think like me, I want them to think like me of their own free will.

earth was named after it’s discoverer…JOE EARTH

You’d think that wouldn’t you, mel? Actually Earth was discovered by Ivan the Terra, Joe Earth was a merchant and cartographer who drew the first map. He named it after himself and made up all these stories about how he had explored the place. the name stuck. ( I think i am going to regret telling Melanie about this place)

“Pardon me while I have a strange interlude.”-Marx

Isn’t it about time GOD came in and said “I did”?

It seems pretty obvious to me that the meaning of dirt came first. A long time ago people probably didn’t have any concept of a globe and may just have assumed the earth extends forever in all directions. For them, the earth and the universe were the same thing. No reason to give it a seperate name.

Also it probably comes from the German ‘Erde’, which means the same thing.

The earth, the ground, the thing we’re standing on.

It isn’t really so odd to think that the name of our planet is the name of the ground we’re standing on since so many names of primitive cultures are just the word in their language for ‘the people’. Sort of a similar concept.

I was puzzling as to why all the aliens we ever hear about have the same name as the planet they live on. After all, we’re humans, not earthlings, right? Then I found out that ‘human’ comes from ‘humus’ - dirt.

Actually, it was Bob G. Earth, the noted Proximan explorer, who is generally credited as the source of the name. He intended to name it after his daughter, Tara, but his own name was used more often.

Incidentally, Tara Earth was also noted as a strong firstbasewoman for West Proxima Polytechnic during the mid 2750s, nicknamed by local sportswriters “Tara Firma” for her ability to keep one foot on the bag while grabbing fly balls.

Source: ENCYCLOPAEDIA GALACTICA, Updated 312th Edition.

…but when you get blue, and you’ve lost all your dreams, there’s nothing like a campfire and a can of beans!

Yeah, but note in a lot of SF which have human colonies, the species is still called ‘human’, but humans who live on Earth are called earthlings (unless it’s called Terra, in which case they’re “Terrans”), while humans living on Pern are Pernese and humans living on Keiss are Keissian, etc. the same way that IRL, people living in Canada are Canadians and people living in Texas are Texans.

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“I get along well with everybody.” --I.M.F.

Damnation. What, you think the people who named stuff kept diaries? There’s not gonna be a definitive answer to this question unless you head over to the rotating mass violation of causality thread and build yourself a time machine.

So what’s the point? Speculation and more speculation. The SDMB GQ should be for questions that can reasonably be expected to have answers.

What planet did this guy come from?

Only questions that can reasonably have answers.


“The Word for World is Forest” - Ursula K Le Guin.

This is a brilliant and moving SF novel. IIRC, it discusses the linguistics involved in such terms as “Earth”.
Le Guin is a sociologist - she knows her stuff.

BTW, the saxon word for forest is Wold…

I have no idea myself, but doesn’t the word Adam mean Earth in hebrew?

We live in an age that reads to much to be wise, and thinks too much to be beautiful–Oscar Wilde

Metro I don’t usually correct people’s spelling, but I make an exception for sig lines. Shouldn’t you change a “to” to “too”?