Et nous aurions dû la nommer « plaisir », mot plus favorable, plus naturel et plus doux, plutôt que d’employer à son propos celui d’une « vigueur» – la vertu – comme nous l’avons fait. Montaigne, Essais, XX.
We ought to have given virtue the more favourable, noble and natural name of pleasure not (as we have done) a name derived from vis (vigour). Montaigne, Essays, XX.
Today I came across the etymology of words “virtue”, “vertu” when reading Montaigne’s Essays and it was a nice surprise. I have never realised their roots. Well, dictionaries tell that they come from Latin virtus, which means “power”, “manliness”. It is also said that virtus comes from Latin vir ( “man”). In Sanscrit it’s वीर (vīrá), in Old Prussian wijrs. In still existing languages Latvian and Samogitian it’s vīrs and Lithuanian vyras (y is pronouced like long i). The word vir itself comes from Proto-Indo-European *wiHrós which is derived from the verb *weyh₁– ( “to hunt”) (cf. Sanskrit वेति (véti), Lithuanian výti etc.), which would render the reconstruction as *wih₁rós, with *h₁ at the place of otherwise unreconstructable laryngeal *H, and the original meaning of “hunter”.