I learned way back in my school days that two of our summer months are named for Roman emperors–July (for Julius Caesar) and August (for Augustus Caesar). I imagine you knew that too. Similarly, you probably know that august as an adjective means “solemnly grand, inspiring reverence,” as it has since the 1660s.
It’s no surprise that our word comes directly from the Latin augustus, which means “venerable, majestic, magnificent, noble.” But did you know that Augustus Caesar wasn’t the man’s name … it was his title? I knew that this particular Caesar hadn’t been born with the name Augustus (his name was actually Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus), but back when I first learned about him in high school, I think I assumed he just changed his name when he became emperor…you know, like they do sometimes.
Nope. In actuality, “Augustus” is a title like “Your Highness” or “Your Majesty.” When Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus was styled Augustus Caesar, he was literally being called “Venerable Emperor.”
Funny side note … when we were learning about these emperors in my tenth grade history class, cue Roseanna going, “OH!! I get it!” My history teacher looked over at me, clearly interested in my great epiphany. I, of course, enlightened him with: “In Disney’s Cinderella! She names the mouse Octavius, but for short, called him Gus. For Augustus. Because Octavius is Augustus!”
Yyyyyeeeppp. These are the sort of epiphanies I will treasure always. 😉