Our mental prototypes of the word arcade probably include retro game rooms full of kids playing Pacman, Galaga, and the like, but before that definition existed arcade (short for video arcade in this context) referred to covered avenues lined with entertainment venues. Even earlier, it meant "covered passageway" (this still is present as a definition today), and before that it specifically meant "arched passageway". The semantic shift gets even more wild when we go back to Latin arcata, or "arch of a bridge", and that derives from Latin arcus (the etymon of arc), "arch"or "bow". Finally, it all comes from the Proto-Indo-European arkwo, also meaning "bow". According to Google NGrams, utilization of the word arcade peaked in 1878 and has been decreasing since.
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a junior 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.