Sometimes I wish that the man who invented and named the walkie talkie was allowed to name everything in life. A bee would be called a fuzzy buzzy, a fork would be called a stabby grabby, stamps would be called lickie stickies and the moon would be called a shiny whitey at nighty. Life is not like this and the moon is called the moon for a reason. Read on to find out why.
First of all, let’s be clear, the moon is a pretty great name. It has a lovely sound and is simple enough for everyone to comprehend yet unique enough to cause no confusion. The moon is the moon. But why?
To answer this question we have to go far back to ancient times when people were still naming things. The word moon comes from the old English word mona and the Latin words metri and mensis which means ‘to measure’ and ‘month’ respectively. The moon is called the moon because it was originally used to measure the months.
The moon changes during a month through different phases. It moves from a full moon to a new moon and back again. This strong connection with the passing of time is why people chose to call the moon the moon.
There are many moons in the world though. Why are they all moons if we don’t use them all to measure months and why have some been given really great names while our moon is still plain old moon?
The answer to this is simple. Our moon was discovered first. When other moons were discovered they were found to be similar looking balls that performed similar tasks as our moon. For example, Jupiter has four moons that appear to have a similar relationship to Jupiter as our moon has with Earth. Thus the term moon became a classification. However, there are now so many moons that we could not name them all moon or even ‘Moon 1’, ‘Moon 2’ and so on. When other moons were discovered they were given names seen as important at the time. Galileo discovered the four moons of Jupiter and each was named after a Greek Myth. The four moons are called Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto.
Of course, if you are not happy with the name of the moon and find it a little boring, you can give it your own special nickname. For years my mother told me there was a man trapped on the moon named Fred and would often point Fred out instead of the moon. So if you don’t like the name ‘moon’, try Fred instead.