The earliest records we have of the word wheel are from the 800s, when it was spelled hweol. Around the 1400s, it started to be spelled without the o and with a wh- at the beginning, although it still had a soft (voiceless) w sound for a while until the modern pronunciation was adopted. The word comes from Proto-Germanic hwehla, and we can tell this comes from Proto-Indo-European kwel (meaning "revolve") because, according to Grimm's Law, the kw in PIE became a hw sound in Proto-Germanic. Meanwhile, it stayed the same in other families like Latin, which is why some other descendants of kwel include words with hard-k sounds like collar and colony. The word wheel first started getting used as a verb in the 1200s and peaked in usage in 1906.
In the early 1860s, a group of Parisian artists fed up with the strict rules of France's Académie des Beaux-Arts formed the Société Anonyme Coopérative des Artistes Peintres, Sculpteurs, Graveurs (or "Cooperative and Anonymous Association of Painters, Sculptors, and Engravers") to independently exhibit their artwork. This was looked upon very critically by the art establishment, and one critic named Louis Leroy wrote an extremely negative review where he derisively nicknamed this group the "Impressionist School" based on Claude Monet's painting Impression, Sunrise. Since the other name was too long and they sort of agreed with the name, the group cheerfully adopted the moniker, and that's how we got the word impressionism.
Please see my update on this here.
I recently got a very interesting question about the relationship between badger, the type of animal, and to badger, the verb meaning "pester". Turns out there is none! The verb badger emerged in the late eighteenth century from a previous verb meaning "to trade". Over time, that developed a sense of "to haggle" and then it took on more annoying connotations. The "trade" verb was first attested in 1600 and seems to be from a noun spelled badger, which referred to traders or, more specifically, fur traders (hence the name). That has an unknown origin, but is widely considered unrelated to the animal name or anything t0 do with bagging. The Oxford English Dictionary says it could come from an Old English surname or various botanical Latin names.
The word wisteria, referring to a genus of colorful climbing shrubs, was coined in 1819 by English anatomist Thomas Nuttall after Caspar Wistar, an anatomy professor who passed away earlier that year, and the noun-ending suffix -ia. You may have noticed that Wistar's name has an a in it while wisteria has an e in it, and this was traditionally ascribed to misspelling, but new evidence from an 1898 interview says otherwise. According to Nuttall, he intentionally coined the name because wisteria sounded more euphonious. There was also a branch of the Wistar family called the Wisters, so Nuttall figured that if it was pretty much the same thing he might as well go with the version that sounded better to him. Both sides of the family anglicized their name from Wüster, a German word related to our word waste.
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.