Politics and Elections

The month of August in different languages of Europe, maps, and etymology

By: Vibor Cipan Published on: July 31, 2022, and filed under Science and health
The word "August" in different languages of Europe – based on etymology.

What are the origins of the word "August," and how is the month of August written in different European languages? This data visualization and blog post answer those and other related questions.

August is the last full month of summer in the Northern Hemisphere. So, as we welcome it, let’s explore how the word August looks in different European languages and its etymology.

Two maps in this article show how August is written in different languages and European countries. The first map shows different language groups and is an interesting overview. The second map shows grouping based on the word etymology.

The word "August" in different languages of Europe – based on language groups
The word “August” in different languages of Europe – based on language groups

Common origin from Latin

The word "August" in different languages of Europe – based on etymology.
The word “August” in different languages of Europe – based on etymology.

Most European languages share the same origin of the word. It comes from Latin augusts meaning majestic, venerable. The month itself was named after the first Roman emperor. Born as Gaius Octavius (an adoptive son of Gaius Julius Caesar), he got the title Augusts from the Roman Senate. To avoid confusion with his stepfather, he started using the name Augustus.

The vast majority of European languages use some variations of the word August. And that holds for languages across different language groups:

  • English, German, Romanian – August, august
  • Spanish and Italian – agosto
  • Greek – Αύγουστος (Avgoustos) 
  • Serbian – aвгуст (avgust)  
  • Turkish – ağustos. 

Even the languages around the Caucasus region follow suit.

  • Georgian – აგვისტო (Agvist’o)
  • Armenian – oգոստոս (oksodos)
  • Azeri – avqust

However, other language groups have different words —notably Slavic and Celtic languages and Lithuanian.

Slavic languages

While several Slavic languages use some form of the word august (Slovakian, Slovene, Serbian, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Macedonian), others have gone their own way.

Croatian kolovoz comes from kolo (a wheel, a wagon) and voziti (to drive, to transport) and describes the fact that crops were harvested and driven from fields during this month.

Polish, Czech, and Ukrainian share a similar etymology. Their versions come from the word siecle (srp) – a tool used for harvesting crops. And while it’s not the same root, Belarussian жнівень (žniven′) comes from жаць, meaning to reap. It’s all about nature and agricultural activities in Slavic calendars.

Lithuanian and Finnish

The Lithuanian language also relates to agriculture. Its word rugpjūtis derives from PIE *wrugʰyo-; and PBS *rugis (rye) and the verb pjaustyti (to cut), which means the month in which the rye is harvested.

The Finnish language also describes agricultural practices. Their elokuu comes from elo- (to live, crop, grains) and kuu (month).

Celtic languages

Irish (Lúnasa) and Scottish Gaelic (an Lùnasdal) don’t have any relation to the word lune (moon). Instead, they are related to Lugh, an important figure in Irish mythology. He’s related to oaths, the act of swearing, the truth, and the law. Although its etymology is not completely clear, some linguists suggested that it derives from a PIE root *(h2)lewgh- (meaning, roughly “to bind by oath”).

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Don’t stop exploring. You can also learn how the month of May is written in different languages in Europe. And if you want to learn about September and its origin and etymology, you can do that, too!