The Zoroastrian religion was named after its prophet Zoroaster, or Zarathustra in the original Avestan. A cultural influence from Richard Strauss to Friedrich Nietzsche, Zarathustra's name has been the subject of heated debate from etymologists. The -ustra part (which was pronounced with a sh) has been definitely identified as meaning "camel" (that's from Proto-Indo-Iranian uštrah and Proto-Indo-European uštras, with the same meaning), but the beginning has been interpreted to mean either "drag", "old", "longing", or "yellow". No matter what, it implies that the prophet Zarathustra was a guy who owned and interacted with camels. Finally, Zoroaster is the result of a Greek phonetic transcription of the word where they confused it with their own words for "undiluted" and "star".
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.