An inselberg is a mountain or hill that abruptly protrudes from its otherwise flat surroundings. It's a weird geographical formation that looks almost like an island rising out of the land, and the name reflects that: it comes from German insel, meaning "island", and berg, "mountain". Insel, just like the English word island (but not isle, as I discussed last October) comes from the Latin noun insula, also "island". That's of uncertain origin, but due to similar words in Greek and Celtic it's thought to ultimately be Indo-European. Berg, through Proto-Germanic bergaz, is reconstructed as coming from Proto-Indo-European berg, meaning "high" (this is also the root of the -burg suffix in city names like Hamburg). The word inselberg has been in use since 1898 and reached peak usage in 1975.
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.