The word pancreas has an interesting origin. It's a sixteenth century loan from the Latin word pancreas, from Greek pankreas. A lot of people were poking around the human body at the time, so we're not really sure who coined it. It may have been Herophilius, it may have been Aristotle. In any case it was in the BCE years. Anyway, we do know for sure that it's a combination of the word pan, or "all", and the word kreas, which meant "flesh" (this is named thus because the pancreas contains neither bone nor cartilage). Pan is now a common prefix in English (pansexual, pandemic, panic), may be connected to the Greek god's name Pan, and derives from the earlier word pas, from Mycenean pasi, from the Proto-Indo-European word pehnts, all of which meant "all". Kreas, on the other hand, takes a more direct route, through Proto-Hellenic krewas ("flesh") to Proto-Indo-European krewhs, which meant "blood" and therefore is as good a proof as any for transubstantiation.
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.