In recognition of World Malaria Day, I recognize malaria as having come from the Italian term mala aira, which literally meant "bad air". A word present everywhere from Irish to Spanish, mala ("bad"), is from Latin (in this case from malus, also "bad"), as most Italian words are. This is likely from Proto-Italic malo, from Proto-Indo-European mol, which generally encompassed nasty words like "evil", "treachery", and "destruction"; some people, however, claim it has Greek origins. Aria is, unsurprisingly, derived from Latin aer, which is also the etymon of the English word air (through its French cognate). This is from the earlier, heavily accented Greek word aer, which is from Proto-Hellenic auher, or "morning mist". This very likely has a connection with the Proto-Indo-European reconstruction hews, which meant "dawn" and, ipso facto, has a clear connection with both "mornings" and "air".
Adam Aleksic is a 221-month-old, 2800-ounce high school senior with disturbing interests in etymology, vexillology, geography, board games, limericks, and law. Adam will be studying linguistics at Harvard University in the fall.
The Etymology Nerd