Gallery has always seemed like an interestingly formed word to me, but now it's even more so. Today, it means a room for exhibiting art or gathering space in general, but when it was first brought into the English language in the mid-1400s, gallery meant something more along the lines of "passageway" (the connection to art came because paintings were sometimes displayed in these hallways). Through Old French gallerie and Latin galeria, this likely derives from another Latin word, galilea (meaning "church porch"), although that is not confirmed. If true, then galilea has an interesting origin of its own: it was named after the region of Galilee, because church porches were at the far ends of the church, just as Galilee was at the far end of Palestine (and, obviously, there is a religious connection as well). The toponym Galilee comes from Hebrew Gelil Haggoyim, meaning "the district of Nations". And now you know.
Adam Aleksic is a 220-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 College in the fall.
The Etymology Nerd