Where does the word “meander” originate and What does meander mean?

There is a river in the western part of Turkey, Asia Minor, now called Menderes, known in ancient times as Maeander.

The nature of the stream has greatly changed in the centuries since it was described by Herodotas, Xenophon, and other writers.

In those days, however, although the river was not remarkable for length or width, it was especially notable for the number of twists and turns it pursued through low, flat country on its way to the sea.

Perhaps such windings amazed the Greeks because, living in a mountainous country, they were accustomed to streams that flowed rapidly and directly to the sea.

But the extremely tortuous Maeander was so unusual to them that its name became a term which they applied to anything that deviated frequently in its course or pursued a labyrinthine pattern.

The altered spelling meander is a variant that has now become generally accepted.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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