Root Exploration: Words Derived from the Greek Naus, or “Ship”

Let’s look at words derived from or related to the Greek naus meaning “ship” and nautes, meaning “sailor.”

You can probably guess that the word “nautical,” and “navy” come from this Greek source. Another related word is “navigate,” which literally and etymologically means “to set a ship in motion.”


Photo by Austin Neill on Unsplash

The word “nausea,” the condition of feeling like you’re going to vomit, literally means “seasickness” or “ship-sickness.”


Photo by The New York Public Library on Unsplash

And the word “astronaut” combines naus with the Greek word astro, or “star,” giving it the literal meaning “star-sailor.”


Photo by Shaun Low on Unsplash

The ocean-dwelling cephalopod called a nautilus (which is also the name of captain Nemo’s submarine in the book Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea), gets its name from a poetic form of the Greek for “sailor.”

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