The word molar was first used in the year 1350 by the Anglo-Norman crusader and poet Walter of Bibbesworth. After its introduction, it took a few hundred years to become mainstream, then it peaked in usage in 1951 and has been decreasing since. Walter borrowed molar from the Latin phrase molaris dens, which meant "grinding tooth". Dens, the word for "tooth", is the same root as in dental, and molaris ("grinding") is present in English words like mola, mill, molasses, and immolate, among others. It comes from mola, meaning "millstone", and that in turn derives from a Proto-Indo-European reconstruction that etymologists think sounded like melh and meant "to crush". For some reason, people in Massachusetts search for the word molar more than people in any other state.
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.