The Mercator projection is a cylindrical map projection often criticized for distorting landmasses near the poles but nevertheless frequently used in websites like Google Maps. It was created in 1569 by Flemish cartographer Gerhard Kremer, who went by the trade name Gerardus Mercator. Kremer spent a lot of time learning Latin and gave himself a pseudonym that was a literal translation of his own. Kremer means "merchant" in German, and mercator means the same in Latin. The term comes from the noun merx, meaning "merchandise", which in turn traces to Proto-Italic merk and possibly Etruscan. Merx is also the root of a bunch of commerce-related words like merchant, market, mercenary, mercantile, and commerce, among others. Apart from a spike during World War II, usage of the word Mercator over time has been fairly constant since the mid-eighteenth century.
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.