Many people have wondered what's the name of the piece of skin between your nose and mouth, and even more have never considered it. The word is philtrum, and it has a fascinating etymology. It's taken from the Greek term philtron, which meant "love charm" or "love potion". This crazy connection occurred because the Greeks believed that the groove above your lip was a particularly erogenous zone (parallels have been drawn to Aphrodite and angels alike). Philtron is a compound of the verb philein ("to love", and sometimes doubling as "to kiss") and the suffix -tron, and philein is a conjugation of philos, or "beloved" (a root that can be recognized in Philadelphia and philosophy). Now, the origin past here is very hazy, and etymologists are unsure how to proceed. It definitely seems to be Proto-Indo-European, and the only theory I could find is that it traces to bhil, a reconstruction meaning "friendly". In any case, it's wonderfully curious that you have a little bit of love right under your nose!
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.