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The Moon and Sleep, 1894, Simeon Solomon

Here is the question from Jeremy in Grade 2 at our school on the Melawati campus:

Is money related to ‘Moon’? If who is seeing this is not who I seek, send this post to Ms. Whiteley of one of the classes in the high school section in ISKL Ampang Campus in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia’s western island, Malaysia, Asia, Earth, the Solar System, The Milky Way, past black holes, The universe.

An intriguing request. Almost Jeremey  ..I am Ann Whiting and in Middle School on the Ampang campus and this is the research one of my students tackled to address your question and the question from the rest of the class as expressed by your teacher:

I have a question to ask one of your English classes. My students were recently studying the days of the week and the meaning behind each day. When we were talking about Monday and making the connection with the base word ‘mon ‘ with month and Monday to the moon, a student asked what about money? Are they connected?

We were thrilled by the  Grade 2’s  inquiry. We were thrilled they were asking us word  questions. However, school was out for two days due to parent teacher conferences. Nevertheless, one student volunteered to tackle this inquiry.

Here are three emails I received from my student over her break.

Month and Monday have a connection to the moon.Month has the proto- Germanic root menoth- (month). And Monday is literally “day of the moon”  which has the root mona (moon). They don’t quite have the same root here, but I think they are related to the moon.The Latin root ‘luna’ means moon, and that’s gets me thinking about Monday in other languages, like French, where monday is lundi, in Italian it’s lunedi  and in Spanish is it lunes. I am doing more research on the relation with money, but that’s what I have found right now. I’ll reply with information on that! :)’

Here is her next email!!

I don’t think that money has any connection, because both Monday and month, they “technically” have a connection. Like, I’m not sure about this, but many cultures (including mine) follow a lunar calendar.(I found some information about why Monday would be the “day of the moon”. It’s after mythical gods and goddesses–Monday coming from Diana or Artemis!)Money comes from the old French monoie, which means coinage or metal currency. I think the reason why the Grade 2 kids thought of it that way was because of the “mon”.

While Jahnavi discovered that  money came into English via  French, I urged her to dig deeper.

‘This sparked a further email: ‘I found out that money comes from Latin moneta or perhaps monere!! However, I’m not sure how that is related to ‘moon’ or ‘month’. I don’t think it is.’

 Watch her explain below:


Apologies for any confusion while pointing to the PIE root( Proto Indo Erupean root) and calling it Proto-Germanic!

Here’s our written reply to our 2nd grade inquirers:

Month and moon are related. Both come from really old roots. Languages have a history- just like you do. You have parents and they had parents and those grandparents had parents and …you get the idea I’m sure..those people are our roots. So it is for words.Words have roots – they come from different places and different times. Some words are old and their roots even older.

Monday came from two Old English roots one is mona : moon which has given us the present day English word <moon>. The other root is also Old English: dæg and this has given us day. So Monday is literally moon’s day. As it has two base elements <mon +day> we have a compound word. A compound word is a word with two or more base elements. In Monday we have a bound base element <mon> .Bound bases mean that that the word, in this case <mon> , can’t stand alone and make sense. It needs another element – in other words another affix or another base. Well Monday of course has <day> a free base element.

This Old English word mona, moon, goes way back, 5,500 years in fact to a root *menes– which meant both moon and month and that goes back to another really old root *me- which has led to the word measure!!!!!So think about measure and month and moon!!! All have a really old root in common. If we think about month it’s the measurement of the moon’s cycle. And if you are thinking moon and month… see what you can find out about lunar. There’s a big hint below. What is the base element here?

Also you might be interested to think about the word crescent which describes the appearance of the moon in part of its cycle. How are crescent and croissant related? Find out about the story behind those words?

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As for money: We think it’s a free base element with absolutely no connection to month and moon. We want to remind you that just because there is the same string of letters in a word does not mean that they share the same morpheme ( that is prefix, suffix or base element). To be related a word has to have the same root and the word money comes from a Latin root monere to warn, to advise!!!

What has warning and advising got to do with money you are wondering? Well, here’s what Jahnavi found out. Money is a fairly old word. It came into English in mid 13th century (a long time ago but moon and month are older!!) Money came via France and before that from a Latin word moneta (Latin is the language spoken by the Romans). The Latin root moneta meant place where money was made or a mint. This Latin word moneta was also the title or surname for the Roman goddess Juno so Moneta (note the capital letter). Etymologists (people who study the history of words) still argue about where the word moneta came from and many think from a Latin word monere to warn. This makes sense to us as the goddess could be warning people when they came to the temple for advice!

Now from Latin monere, lots of other words have come into English. The Latin suffix <-ere> drops off from the word and we have eventually money in English, a free base element. We do not think there is a suffix <ey> – we see it in words but so far can not prove it to be a suffix. Think about <key>, <they>.. no suffix there. Also from this Latin root monere we get words like admonish which means to tell someone off, in other words warn them against doing something. Monsters were once thought to be a sign of evil approaching, doom, of something bad about to happen so in other words, a warning. So no link between month, moon and money but a link instead between money and monsters!!! What a surprise!! There is a lot to talk about with monster but that’s a story for another time!

Read the work on moon conducted by Canadian teacher Skot Caldwell ‘s and his 4th grade class on the blog Who in the World Am I? You might find their work inspiring.

Further research: Endymion and Selene

And that was it I thought. Interesting but no moon and money connection. Our class continued to get lost in Greek myths, along with Odysseus lost at sea. Then as we read one of our texts D’ Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths, I remembered  the myth of Endymion and Selene.

Endymion was a handsome shepherd and the mortal lover of the moon goddess Selene. Selene despaired at the thought of Endymion dying and begged Zeus to grant him eternal life. Zeus granted her wish and put Endymion into eternal sleep so that each night Selene could visit him. Some accounts say Selene and Endymion had fifty daughters!  The Greek poet Nonnus of Panopolis says that they were the parents of the beautiful and vain Narcissus. Selene, one of the Titans, is often depicted riding a chariot pulled by horses or bulls across the sky when her  brother Helios, the sun god has completed his journey. She wears a crescent moon on her head.

The Etymology of Selene

Selene’s Latin equivalent is Luna. The Greek name Selene is from the root σελήνη meaning moon which comes from Greek σέλας meaning ‘light’ or ‘brightness’. This goes even further back to the PIE root *swel- : to shine, to beam and could you dear reader, as you look at that root be making the leap to Old English swelter? And what happens when the weather is hot and humid? Well you become sweltery and the weather is sultry!! Read on at the Etymology Online Dictionary  and gasp with amazement at the connections!!

Continue to gasp as you read about the etymology of the name Endymion!


Even more surprising was the discovery that there is a moon~money link after all. Juno is the Roman equivalent of Hera. As mentioned earlier in this post, coins were minted at her temple. As I failed to recognize earlier, she is goddess of the new moon! Her name means “the young one”  from an Italic root similar to Latin iunior “younger,” iuvenis “young”‘. Juno’s name is linked with with juvare (iuvāre) “to aid, benefit”, which led to the Latin compound  iuvenescendo, “rejuvenate”. This then is a link to the concept of renewal of the waxing moon. Read about this here and on Online Etymology Dictionary: Juno.

So where from here with the grade 2’s?

  • While thinking of month , we’re wondering can you find any other words where <-th> is a suffix? Some of the grade 7’s have been thinking about this and gathering evidence. Here’s a clue for one word where the <-th> is a suffix:When you are cold you look for ……? How do you know the <-th> is a suffix?
  • The relationship of <o> and <u> could be interesting to follow on from this investigation . Month when pronounced is  IPA /mʌnθ/ and money as / mʌni/. If sound was the dominant force in the orthographic representation of a word then you might expect  ‘munth’ and ‘muney’. However, because the prime purpose of spelling or orthography is about representing meaning (text made visible) then as we can see month and money need to be written with the single grapheme <o> in order to reflect the meaning link between the moon and Monday and Latin monere warning for money.. As the root was Old English  OE monaþ, OE monað, or OE monoð,it is the grapheme <o> that surfaces in the present day spelling. The phoneme /ʌ/ can then be represented by both <o> and <u>. The choice of the grapheme will be reflected by the etymology. What about investigating the word love as part of an <o> /<u> inquiry? See Kit 1 K Learning from Love and Kit 4C ‘Letters <o> and <u>: Conventions that concern them’ from Real Spelling.
  • Investigate the story behind the verbs wax and wane? How is the word waist connected?

Finally treat yourself to Gina Cooke’s Lex post A Measured Response to Crazy Rumours here and become moonstruck by the connections and interconnections.

For more lunacy journey to 1959 and la bella Mina:



And how can anyone think of the moon without Van Morrison? Listen to Moondance with Van Morrison, Carlos Santana and others recorded in 1977:



It is appropriate to close with Pink Floyd’s Money, from their brilliant 1973 album Dark Side of the Moon, that explored lunacy and the things that drive people to this state. Listen here. Read more about the album here and Rolling Stone’s article ‘Forty years of the Dark Side’