In 1966, the word jetlag was first used by travel writer Horace Sutton as a replacement for the previously cumbersome term time zone syndrome. It's quite obviously a portmanteau of jet and lag, so let's see where that takes us. Jet first entered English in the late seventeenth century, but back then it took on the meaning of "a gush" of water or air. It hails from French jet (also get), which derives from Latin iactus, or "throw", an easy connection to make. Iactus is from the verb iacere ("to throw"; another instance of anthimeria), from Proto-Italic jakjo, and ultimately from Proto-Indo-European hyeh, also "to throw". Lag, meaning "delay", of course, takes us into a different language family: we are unsure exactly where from, but all evidence points towards Scandinavia, for it's philologically related to some other North Germanic words. The whole term jetlag is kinda oxymoronic, since it describes something very fast causing some kind of slowing down.
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.