The word hyacinth was first borrowed in the thirteenth century from the Old French word jacinth, which in turn comes from Latin hyacinthus, which still referred to the flower. The English word was originally spelled with a j at the beginning too, but then it was modified to reflect its classical roots. Hyacinthus traces to the Ancient Greek word hyakinthos, which was used to describe a blueish-purplish gem (probably sapphire). It was the name of a type of purple flower as well, which is how we got the modern definition; hyakinthos is ultimately of a non-IE Pre-Greek language. Hyacinthos was also a lover of Apollo in Greek mythology who was killed by Zephyrus, the jealous god of the west wind. Legend says that Apollo was devastated and wanted to remember Hyacinthos somehow, so he created the flower out of his blood.
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.