The first thing I think of when I hear the word Matrix is the philosophical idea that we might all be living in a simulation. This schema of mine stems from the 1999 movie, but before that, the word meant "a place where something develops". The Matrix film is connected to that because it posits that humans are developed in this virtual world as they're drained of life for energy. A matrix can also be a kind of array in mathematics or circuitry; this is connected because certain values have to be set for those matrices, which is similar to the development aspect. But the "place of development" meaning has been around the longest of the modern definitions: it was first recorded in the mid-sixteenth century. Before that, matrix in English meant "uterus". Again, the "development" connection, but this specific connotation died out over time. Now, that was fascinating, but it gets better. The "uterus" definition was a loanword from Old French matrice, which came from Latin matrix, which still meant "womb" but could also mean "pregnant animal". Even further back, it's from the word mater, meaning "mother". Through Proto-Italic, this is from Proto-Indo-European mehter, with the same definition. I guess you could say that the etymology of matrix has an interesting development, or matrix!
Adam Aleksic is a 220-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 College in the fall.
The Etymology Nerd