The word howitzer (referring to a type of cannon) was first borrowed into the English language in a 1695 edition of the London Gazette, where it was spelled hauwitzer. Throughout the 1700s, it was occassionally also spelled hautvitzer, hautwitzer, hawitzer, hawbitzer, hobitzer, and haubitzer, until the modern form became standardized in the nineteenth century. The word comes from German Haubitze, which is from the Czech word houfnice, meaning "catapult" (this term was introduced to the Germans during the Hussite Wars in the 1400s). -Nice served as a nominal suffix; the root is houf, which usually would translate to "crowd" but here meant "heap" (as in the catapult's payload). Ultimately, that traces to Proto-Germanic haupaz and Proto-Indo-European hupo, with the same definitions.
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.