I've always loved the word archipelago - it just has a pleasing ring to it, I guess - but I like it even more now that I know the etymology. Originally, the word specifically referred to the islands in the Aegean Sea, but over time it came to mean any cluster of islands in general. This was borrowed at the beginning of the sixteenth century from Italian arcipelago, which then referred to the entire Aegean. In Ancient Greek, this was the proper noun arkhipelagos, which may be translated as "the Chief Sea", a term that reflects the water body's importance to the Greeks. Arkhi- more literally means "leading" and, through the verb arkhein (meaning "to rule"), derives from the Proto-Indo-European reconstruction hergh, with the same definition. Pelagos stood in for "sea" and possibly comes from Proto-Indo-European pele, meaning "flat", but that's not certain.
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic. This year, I graduated from Harvard University with a degree in Government and Linguistics. There, I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society and wrote a thesis on Serbo-Croatian language policy, magna cum laude. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy philosophy, trivia, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.