An ortolan is a type of bird native to Eurasia and known for being cooked and eaten whole in some cultures. The name for them comes from Middle French hortolan, which meant "gardener". Through Old French, that traces to Latin hortulanus, which is a conjugation of hortulus, which is a diminutive of hortus, "garden" (the source of the word horticulture). That is said to derive from Proto-Indo-European gher, meaning "enclosure" (this composes parts of the words Asgard, garden, arugula, orchard, kindergarten, and many more). The scientific name for the ortolan, hortulana, comes from the Italian word ortolano, which eventually derives from hortulanus. After its first introduction to the English language in the late seventeenth century, ortolan peaked in usage in the 1780s and has been generally trending downwards since.
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.