When the word campaign was first used in Thomas Hobbes' 1628 translation of The Peloponnesian War, it meant "plain", "field", or "tract of open land". By the 1640s, a sense of "military operation in the field" came about, and around the 1770s it first came to be figuratively applied to organized actions similar to military campaigns, which is how we got the political definition (and the verb is from 1701). The word was borrowed from French campagne, meaning "countryside". That, through either Italian campagne or Old French champagne, derives from Latin campania, with the same meaning. Earlier on, that was campus (a root that shows up in scamper, champion, camp, champagne, Camembert, and, yes, campus) and it's thought to ultimately derive from the Proto-Indo-European root khemp, meaning "bend" or "curve".
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.