After a friend used the word galvanize earlier today to mean "urge into action", I had a realization that I was able to make thanks to my AP Chem days. The verb can also mean "coat a metal using electricity", and the newer definition emerged because of the notion of something being sparked into movement. We got the word at the start of the nineteenth century from the French noun galvanisme, which was named after Luigi Galvani, an Italian polymath who (along with his wife Lucia) did the first research into bioelectricity. He wanted to call it animal electricity, but it was named after the pair on the suggestion of Alessandro Volta, the scientist whom volts are named after. Interestingly, the surname Galvani comes from the first name Gavin, which may trace to a Celtic word meaning "hawk".
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.