It seems so obvious now, though I never would have guessed it earlier. The word varsity, referring to the highest tier of sports in high school or college, comes from the word university! This will come as no shock to people outside of North America, as Anglophone countries on all other countries still use that as slang for "university". That, however, was transcended in the US where I live, making it all the more interesting. This whole formation was a dialectical matter, a word shift based on an accent that occurred way back in the early 1800s. Before then, the word university came from the Old French word universite, from Latin universitas, from universus, a word which meant "entire" or "whole" (this referred to colleges being entire communities of scholars). This is a portmanteau, of uni-, meaning "one" (from Proto-Indo-European oynus, "one"), and versus, meaning "turn" (from Proto-Indo-European wertti, "turn around"). Together, this "one turn" made something "whole", figuratively speaking.
Adam Aleksic is a 221-month-old, 2800-ounce high school senior with disturbing interests in etymology, vexillology, geography, board games, limericks, and law. Adam will be studying linguistics at Harvard University in the fall.
The Etymology Nerd