In 1901, the pharmaceutical company Parke, Davis & Co. (now a subsidiary of Pfizer) registered the trademark Adrenalin to describe a new purified extract from the adrenal glands that was perfected by Japanese chemist Jokichi Takamine. In Europe, people added an e to that, and that's how we got the word adrenaline. Takamine coined the word from Latin ad, meaning "near", renal, meaning "kidneys" and the chemical suffix -ine, because the adrenal glands are located on top of the kidneys. We've seen the prefix ad an inordinate amount of times, and (surprise!) it still comes from a Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to", "near", or "at". Renal, meanwhile, traces to Latin ren, also "kidneys". This has an officially uncertain etymology, but could be from PIE gren, which referred to internal organs in general.
Adam Aleksic is a 221-month-old, 2800-ounce high school senior with disturbing interests in etymology, vexillology, geography, board games, limericks, and law. Adam will be studying linguistics at Harvard University in the fall.
The Etymology Nerd