What is the Name of Our Moon?

Question posed by pudster100.

I hate to be the bearer of bad - or simply boring - news, but our moon's name is just... the Moon.

But why is it that our Moon is called 'the Moon', yet all the other planets' moons have more interesting names? Simply put, it's because ours was the first. Not the first to be formed; just the first to be noticed by us. Compared to all the other moons we now know about, and indeed pretty much everything else in the sky, the Moon is pretty flipping noticeable, and it took a fair while to realise there were any others whirling about the Solar System*.

But it hasn't always been called that. The earliest name for the Moon that I can find in the English language's lineage is 'mǣnōn', which is buried in the beginnings of the Germanic languages, from which modern languages including English, German, and the Scandinavian languages have since grown. From there, and probably through numerous intermediate steps, it developed into the Old English 'mōna' from the Middle Ages. In the 12th century, we had the much more familiar 'moone', which then morphed over time into the 'Moon' that we know and love today.

Of course, other modern languages have their own names for our Moon, all of which seem to have developed over time from arcane beginnings. There's a table of various languages' names for the Moon (and other Solar System bodies) over at nineplanets.org, and a quick scan of the list shows some pretty obvious shared-lineages for many of the world's languages: many of them have an obvious common heritage in the Latin 'Luna', for example, which is where we get our adjective 'lunar' from. A less often used Moon-based adjective is 'selenic,' from the Greek 'Selene,' with selenologists being those scientists who study selenology (the Lunar equivalent to geology).

* Incidentally, this is also probably why our solar system is just called 'the Solar System', while others have groovier names.


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