The verb baptize was first used in 1297 in a chronicle by historian Robert of Gloucester. Thereafter, it underwent a lot of variations in the English language, taking on forms such as baptise, baptyse, baptisen, baptysen, and many more. Baptism as a noun was a thing since the 1380s (and because of all those spellings, the s and the z remain in the words). It was all taken from Old French baptiser, which was taken from Latin baptizer, which was taken from Ancient Greek baptizein. Previously, the words all held the same definition, but baptizein could also refer to the dipping of items into water for irreligious purposes. It derives from a previous verb, baptein, which meant "to dip" and might trace to Proto-Indo-European gwabh, also "dip". Use of the word baptism peaked in the 1840s and has decreased sharply since our societies became more secular.
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.