The word cybernetics first showed up as the title of a 1948 book about self-regulating mechanisms, written by American mathematician Norbert Wiener. Wiener took the word from a Latinized form of the Ancient Greek word kybernetes, meaning "steerman", along with the suffix -ics. This new sense was probably influenced by the French word cybernetique, or "the practice of governing", on the notion of a control device being something like a computer governor. Kybernetes comes from the verb kybernan, "to pilot", and that has an unknown origin. The prefix cyber- that we use to refer to computer-related things first started showing up in the 1980s, and is a mistaken rebracketing of the original word. The noun cyber as shorthand for "virtual sex" was first attested in 1995.
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior 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.