Dictionary.com

Wednesday’s Named for Two Very Different Gods

Woden, Odin

The name Wednesday derives from two mighty but distinct gods. The Old English word for Wednesday indicates that the day was named for the Germanic god Woden. In Romance languages, the name is derived from the Roman god Mercury. (For example, Wednesday is mercredi in French and miercuri in Romanian.) Woden (also known as Odin) and Mercury have  been associated since Scandinavian and Roman cultures crossed paths. Under Woden’s supervision, the earth and sky were created from the dead body of a giant named Ymir. Woden also created the first man and woman from an ash tree and an alder. As if fashioning the human race wasn’t enough, Woden also established the laws of the universe. (The wacky history of Tuesday makes the origin of “Wednesday” seem boring. Read it here.)

Mercury was the messenger to the gods, along with being the patron of science, the arts, travelers and athletes. Today, he is one of the most widely recognized gods. Usually, he’s depicted wearing a winged helmet and sandals.

Starting around 1965, Wednesday began being referred to as “hump day.” Smack dab in the middle of the traditional work week, arriving at Wednesday symbolizes that we’ve made it over the hump and the weekend is in sight.

129 Comments

  1. snarky -  April 14, 2014 - 4:24 pm

    thank you, Ruth!

    Reply
  2. Fiannore -  April 3, 2014 - 8:18 am

    Veldrina,
    I don’t know what kind of Bible you read, but the traditional one is the Douay Rheims. Your understanding of Catholicism is rather juvenile. Perhaps you should find an old traditional catechism. Modern Catholicism would be more down your alley. The pope is only infallible under very particular circumstances, otherwise he can err.
    May God bless you with the graces necessary to see the truth.

    Reply
    • Sarah -  April 4, 2014 - 10:12 pm

      Why pick on Catholics? Everyone is fallible. Are you picking on a religion, an organization or just plan being picky?

      Reply
  3. Veldrina -  August 21, 2013 - 10:19 am

    Whether folks “believe” in Roman, Greek, or Norse gods or not, the fact remains that the names come from them. I happen to be pagan but I knew about the history behind the names before I became Wiccan. The names are mostly from the Norse gods, except for Sunday & Monday (Sun’s Day & Moon’s Day). Tuesday is Tyr’s Day, the god of war, who also corresponds with the Roman god of war (& planet) Mars (greek Ares). Wednesday is Woden’s Day, and coresponds to the god/planet Mercury (Greek Hermes). The AllFather Odin was known as a wayfarer, hence why it would make sense to align these traveling gods. Thursday is Thor’s Day, and corresponds to planet/Roman God Jupiter (greek Zeus) as both gods were storm/lightning gods. Friday is sometimes assigned to Freya & sometimes to Frigga, very similar goddesses known for their beauty, though Freya more for her battle prowess & being the Queen of the Valkyries. Planet/roman goddess is Venus (greek Aphrodite) * hence viernes in spanish. Saturday is names after the roman god Saturn (greek Chronos, father of Zeus) & unless someone knows different, I don’t believe it has a corresponding norse god/goddess, though I would probably say the Norns (Fates). There are 7 days because in the beginning only 7 heavenly bodies could be seen. The discovery of uranus, neptune & pluto came later. (Uranus = urania, queen of the Muses, Neptune = Poseidon, king of the seas, Pluto= Hades, Queen of the underworld & the norse counterpart would be Hel or Hela, norse queen of the dead, where you get the word Hell from.) As for facts, look them up on Google folks…”in the age of information, ignorance is a choice”. And pls do NOT start with me on the “they’re not real, just myths, i don’t believe etc.” (1) I don’t believe in the bible, though I’m pretty well versed in it since i actually READ, so i don’t need u trying to shove it down my throat., thanx. (2) every mythos was once (or still is) someone’s belief system, so have some respect, & (3) if the old myths sound far-fetched, think of how it must sound to others when u explain a zombie god whose blood & flesh u eat at mass, who could turn water into wine, cure ppl, bring them back from the dead, & that there’s an old guy who has a hotline to god & wears a funny hat who is never wrong about what god wants.

    Reply
    • Craig -  April 15, 2014 - 9:57 am

      Wow! Talk about being disrespectful. You sure like to color your opinion of Christianity with some very negative and offensive descriptions.

      Reply
  4. ula salah -  October 3, 2012 - 8:56 am

    thank you 4 the info :)

    Reply
  5. Borp -  October 3, 2012 - 5:43 am

    Of course, I may be wrong. After all, I only know that I know nothing…

    Reply
  6. Borp -  October 3, 2012 - 5:39 am

    These comments are some of the most inane I’ve ever seen, and I’ve been to YouTube.

    To A Bittersweet Melody: That argument doesn’t work. Science isn’t what you believe in, science is what you know from what you observe, or what you know from what other people have observed. Other people have observed these things and spread them on. Other people have tested these observations and found them right (in which case they’re kept and spread on) or wrong (in which case they’re dismissed, as soon as possible).

    Also, that’s not exactly what Socrates said — he said that he was wiser than a man who did not know something about a matter and said that he did, whereas he was equally ignorant and confessed to knowing nothing, as accounted by Plato. It’s not supposed to be “know nothing because you can’t be sure that you ever truly know anything” (a philosophy that renders one incapable of practical living), it’s supposed to be “be straightforward about what you don’t know” — a far less philosophical sentiment.

    Reply
  7. John -  July 17, 2011 - 2:09 pm

    i am a wednesday child. does that mean i’m odin’s child? i was born on miercoles. does that mean i can fly?

    Reply
  8. Tammy D -  July 3, 2011 - 4:03 pm

    I like MJ’s explanation above best.

    Reply
  9. Tammy D -  July 3, 2011 - 3:54 pm

    Woden’s Day. English pronunciation has changed a lot over the years. Ruth who made the comment above is right; a lot of English people do say Wedinsday. We like to shorten things and Wodensday started to be pronounced as Wedinsday, then Wednesday with a silent “d” and a silent “e” because people talk lazy. And it is that peculiarity that in certain dialects in England where they say Wedinsday that gives us more insight into how the word used to be pronounced. The “o” in Wodensday was just too much work to say, so it got made Wedinsday because the “e” sound like in “egg” sound is easier.

    Reply
  10. Amber -  June 27, 2011 - 10:41 pm

    um, excuse me, my name is amber, and, not to brag because i hate when people do that (this is just to prove a point here) i’m the smartest person in my class. a name has nothing to do with anyone’s academic abilities.

    Reply
  11. JJ Rousseau -  June 27, 2011 - 3:43 pm

    ‘I don’t like Mondays’,Oui?

    Reply
    • AWESOME GIRL -  April 14, 2014 - 4:20 pm

      oui

      Reply
  12. antonio -  June 26, 2011 - 2:21 pm

    Mercury is a planet nextest of the Sun. The word “mercado” that means market/shopping came from Merc+ury (merc+ado), because Odin/Mercury is the god of traders.

    Reply
  13. Mike McKelvy -  June 26, 2011 - 1:44 pm

    Sunday… The Sun’s Day
    Monday… Man’s Day
    Tuesday.. Twos Day the second day of the work week
    Wednesday… Marriage Day for Wed’uns
    Thursday… Thirst Day for drinking to celebrate getting over the “Hump”\
    Friday… Fish Fry day (cuz we don’t eat meat)
    Saturday… EZ! We sat on the couch and watched TV

    Reply
    • AWESOME GIRL -  April 14, 2014 - 4:22 pm

      FUNNY!!! I totally agree, Mike McKelvy

      Reply
  14. tan -  June 26, 2011 - 12:07 am

    @H_E_Y
    I would say that the dictionary has been compiled logically, and as logic (and generally accepted base postulates) make up science, then, yes a dictionary would be a book of science. The science of communication, or something similar.
    P.S. you are the first person to ever reply to one of my comments, thank-you, I’m flattered.

    Reply
  15. Jas Hilsdon -  June 24, 2011 - 11:54 am

    I too was confused by the article. It finally became clear that the author did not say clearly what he meant, and did not mean exactly what he said. Beyond that, it’s interesting to note that all the days of the week (at least in english) are taken from either celestial bodies or ancient gods, all things way over our heads.

    Reply
  16. Sunday -  June 24, 2011 - 10:48 am

    Where is a record of your claim.

    Reply
  17. Maximonk -  June 24, 2011 - 8:46 am

    It must be very disappointing to write interesting articles then to find that the majority of responders cannot understand simple English and have very little idea of grammar or spelling.

    Reply
  18. Ismael -  June 24, 2011 - 5:51 am

    The truth about history of man has been corrupted by the devil ( the liar, satan) through the man. All cultures and even christianity have been currupted( all rituals are paganized). Such lies have been stretching down throughout the history into our days. Unfortunately, they affect our lives. The holy Bible deserves our trust! it contains the truth about man’s history and the mind of his Creator. Beware of your culture, habits,…

    Reply
  19. neely -  June 24, 2011 - 2:59 am

    wats the relevance between god wodenn nd god mercury so as to make the whole as wednesday

    Reply
  20. Ruth -  June 23, 2011 - 11:25 pm

    The point the Christians were trying to make was that “Wednesday” began when it was created (read Genesis). The topic of God is relevant here.

    We know what we believe. It is the heckling that is ridiculous. You start throwing out insults and threats when you don’t have truth to back up your arguments. That kind of behavior tells me that you are insecure. Frankly, it makes me sad rather than mad that so many people are lost. If you like it that way, fine. But none of you seem to be enjoying yourselves. To have heads full of knowledge isn’t enough, so you put others down to look more intelligent.

    To quote John Mayer, “Something’s missing and I don’t know what it is.”

    Reply
  21. Jordan -  June 23, 2011 - 10:43 pm

    This article is not saying that the name Wednesday is derived from both the names Woden and Mercury. It’s saying that it is derived from the name Woden. That’s it. In Romance languages (English is not a romance language), the name for Wednesday tends to be derived from Mercury. For example, miercoles in Spanish. The OE word for Wed. is Wodnesdæg, which literally means Woden’s Day. Over time, that somehow changed to Wednesday. Point is, if you read the article with care, it shouldn’t be that confusing. Also, the article is not trying to make you believe in mythology; if you feel like you need to defend your Christian beliefs after reading this, maybe you’re not truly too convinced of them in the first place.

    Reply
  22. Ruth -  June 23, 2011 - 10:17 pm

    Thanks ProStoVeritate for that bit of wisdom. This is America, isn’t it???

    Tobias Mook, Joe Snarky…boy, you seem like some real happy guys! Learn to smile more. The anger ages you by at least ten years.

    Reply
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