In the later days of World War II, when Japan knew they were going to lose but tried to drag on the war to discourage America, they began sending planes to fly into other ships. This suicide was also considered an honorable death by many Japanese. Of course, they needed a patriotic, inspiring name for that act. So they used kamikaze, which previously was the term for the storms which destroyed Mongol fleets as they tried and failed to invade Japan. The idea was that these pilots were each an individual storm, used to prevent a foreign power from conquering the land of the rising sun. Anyway, kamikaze is a portmanteau of two other words, kami, meaning "godly", and kaze, meaning "wind", again showing the serendipitous yet divine intervention the Japanese believed made them superior to invading barbarians. Kami comes from kamu, meaning "god", and has cognates in Ainu kamuy and Korean kom, so is likely from Proto-Japonic or some other such localized language family. I can't find any sources for kaze (Asian words are a nightmare to etymologize, since the characters and meanings have separate origins, and they're poorly researched), but it likely follows a similar path.
Adam Aleksic is a sophomore studying linguistics and government at Harvard University. He also has disturbing interests in politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, and law.