Etymology of Rocket, Spinster's Staff!

By Xah Lee. Date: . Last updated: .
Antares (rocket) explodes after 5 seconds from launch.

Antares is an expendable launch system developed by Orbital Sciences Corporation. Able to launch payloads heavier than 5,000 kg into low-Earth orbit, it made its inaugural flight on April 21, 2013. Designed to launch the Cygnus spacecraft to the International Space Station as part of NASA's COTS and CRS programs.

Antares (rocket)

It's interesting, that the word “rocket” came from a tool for winding wools used in spinning, due to the shape of the tool.

etymology of rocket

rocket: type of self-propelling projectile, 1610s, from Italian rocchetto “a rocket,” literally “a bobbin,” diminutive of rocca “a distaff,” so called because of cylindrical shape. The Italian word probably is from a Germanic source (compare Old High German rocko “distaff,” Old Norse rokkr), from Proto-Germanic *rukkon-, from PIE root *rug- “fabric, spun yarn.”

rocket

Reine Berthe et les fileueses  Albert Anker  1888
Queen Berthe instructing girls to spin flax on spindles using distaffs, painting by Albert Anker, 1888.

A distaff (/ˈdɪstɑːf/, also called a rock[1]) is a tool used in spinning. It is designed to hold the unspun fibers, keeping them untangled and thus easing the spinning process. It is most commonly used to hold flax, and sometimes wool, but can be used for any type of fiber. Fiber is wrapped around the distaff, and tied in place with a piece of ribbon or string.

The word comes from dis in Low German, meaning a bunch of flax, connected with staff. As an adjective the term distaff is used to describe the female side of a family.

Distaff

So now, when you hear “rocket science”, it may not be a big deal, after all.

Rocket in Chinese Language

in Chinese, rocket is called 火箭, literally fire 火 arrow 箭.

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