Most people who know the word gamergate would associate it with a 2014 right-wing online harassment campaign targeting women in the video game industry, but it has another meaning, mostly known by entomologists. Apparently, it's also a type of egg-laying worker ant! The word, which was coined by geneticist William Brown in 1983, has nothing to do with gamers or gates, and derives from the Greek word gamos, meaning "marriage", plus ergates, "worker" (so, together, a gamergate is a "married worker ant"). Gamos, also the root of a lot of words ending in -gamy in them, comes from the Proto-Indo-European root gem, also "to marry". Ergates, meanwhile, comes from Greek ergon, meaning "work" (also present in a lot of recognizeable words, like ergonomic, metallurgy, and surgeon). Finally, that's from Proto-Hellenic ergon and Proto-Germanic ergom, also "work".
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.