Where did the word “meteorology” come from?

Weather

Dear Tom,

Where did the word “meteorology” come from?

Armee Watson,
Chicago

Dear Armee,

The term meteorology dates back to early Greece. Greek philosophers of that era conducted the earliest known scientific studies of the weather. It was in that period that Aristotle wrote Meteorologica (340 BC), a seminal work discussing various atmospheric phenomena, as well as geology, shooting stars and oceanography.

At the time, the word “meteor” referred to rain, hail, clouds, snow, rainbows, etc., any substance suspended in the air or that fell from the sky. (Even today, cloud physicists and other scientists refer to raindrops as hydrometeors.) Since most of Aristotle’s Meterologica dealt with weather phenomena and his views on how they occurred, “meteorology” came to be used when referring to the study of weather and the atmosphere.

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