The font Helvetica was created in 1957 by Swiss designer Max Miedinger, but it wasn't called that at the time. It originally came out with the name Neue Haas Grotesk, or "New Haas Grotesque", with Haas being the name of the type foundry and Grotesque being a type of sans-serif font. However, as you can imagine, the marketers at Miedinger's parent company weren't too happy with the name, and pushed for something more memorable and accessible. The suggested name, Helvetica, was an elegant reference to the country of Switzerland, which was referred to as Confoederatio Helvetica in Latin. That's a reference to the Helvetii, a Celtic tribe living in the area during Roman times, and the name ultimately meant something like "many grasslands" in Proto-Celtic.
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.