The roots of cathedral has been around longer than cathedrals have, which is saying something. This word, meaning "main church of a diocese," dates all the way to the Proto-Indo-European word kmt, defined as "down" or "with". This went into Greek as kata, solely with the meaning "down", and soon fused with another word (hedra, from the PIE root sed, "to sit") to make the word kathedra "seat or bench", since you sit down on a seat. In Greek-to-Latin transitions, k's often change to c's, and this was no different, as the word cathedra took place (this doubled as a "comfy seat" or a "woman sitting in a comfy seat"). As this passed into Church Latin, it dropped any possibly inappropriate connotations as cathedralis or "bishop's seat". This makes sense if you view "seat" as a "seat of power" and a cathedral as a seat of a bishop's power, which in most cases it is. So, next time you sit down in a cathedral, you sit down in a sit down.
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.