People have oft described war as a kind of ballet, but it's pretty crazy how intertwined the two are etymologically. Ballet is a word which can be traced through French and Italian (which makes sense, because ballet as a dance came to France from Italy), and eventually leads to the Italian root ballo, or "dance" (balletto meant "short dance"). Ballo is from Latin ballere (also the root of Spanish bailar), which derives from Greek bailizein, which meant "to dance or jump". Since the next logical link from "jump" is "throw", it is not surprising that this comes from the earlier Greek word ballein, or "to throw", from the Proto-Indo-European reconstruction gwele, which doubled as "throw" and "reach". Anyway, ballein lead to the later Latin word ballista, which described a type of catapult that "throws" stones. This came to be associated with projectile weaponry in general, and that's how today's crude nuclear ballistics are connected to the refined art of ballet.
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a rising junior 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.