The first use of the word museum in the English language was in a seventeenth-century translation of Plutarch's Moralia, in which the word Musaea was retained from the original Latin to refer to the temple of the Muses (the nine goddesses of knowledge and the arts), and because some of those buildings were set aside for studying history, the word got extended to refer to museums as we know them today. For a while, it was spelled as musæum, but the word was standardized with an e replacing the ash by the eighteenth century, with usage increasing until a peak in 1997. Musaea comes from Ancient Greek mousa, meaning "muse" (also the source of the verb to muse and the noun music), which eventually may be derived from Proto-Indo-European men, meaning "to think".
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a rising junior 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.