1. (kârən) The ferryman who conveyed the dead to Hades over the river Styx.
2. (kârən, shâr-) Astronomy The largest of Pluto's satellites.
[Latin Charōn, from Greek Kharōn, Kharōn-, possibly an ironic or apotropaic use (with reference to Charon's gloomy task) of the Greek male personal name Kharōn (from khairein, khar-, to rejoice, delight in, be glad to; see gher-2 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots) or a hypocorism from kharopos, having flashing or bright eyes, fierce, grim (probably khairein + -op-; akin to Greek ōps, ōp-, eye, and op-s-, suppletive future stem of horān, to see; see PELOPS). Sense 2, originally coined (without knowledge of the name of the mythological figure) by James W. Christy (born 1938), American astronomer who discovered Charon in 1978 : Char, nickname of Charlene Christy, his wife + -on, noun suffix common in scientific vocabulary; see -ON1 (although Christy soon discovered that by fortunate coincidence his coinage corresponded exactly to the name of a figure associated with the god Pluto).]
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Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.