Apparently, when the Episcopal Church was being set up at the end of the 1700s, its full name was The Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, and this remained the only official name until 1964, when they amended the constitution to allow for the shorter The Episcopal Church. Several prominent members throughout the history of the organization actually took issue with the name, saying it didn't reflect the reformed nature of the church and advocating for it to be called something like the American Catholic Church. The word "episcopal" just means "of or pertaining to bishops", and comes from episcopus, the Latin word for "bishop" (and also the source of English bishop, once you drop the e and the suffix). Finally, that comes from the Ancient Greek roots epi, meaning "over", and skopos, meaning "watcher", because a bishop is like a religious overseer.
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.