The word unitard is a play on the word leotard, with the obvious substitution of the prefix uni- for (the not a prefix) leo-. But where does leotard come from? It was named after Jules Leotard, who popularized the skintight onepiece in the early 1800s. There have been several other people with the surname Leotard, but not enough to warrant any etymological information (there's no research on this). This means that, to fill the next half of this blog post, I'm going to have to make some crazy conjectures. Any French names probably trace back to either Germanic or Romantic languages (notable German or Latin). In Latin, the word leo means "lion" and tard in French also means "late". If we follow the Italic pathway, Leotard could mean "late lion". Another option is that liu, meaning "place" in French, and Thard, a place in France, were combined to denote that Jules' family was named after a location. However, there is also the Germanic option: surnames such as Lyotard and Liuthard exist, so that could be a pathway too. Don't take my word for it, though; I'm just theorizing here.
Adam Aleksic, a freshman studying linguistics at Harvard University, has been described as the internet's sixth most famous etymologist. He has disturbing interests in words, vexillology, geography, board games, limericks, and law, and he loves writing about himself in the third person.
The Etymology Nerd