Did You Know: The Word “Lens” Came from the Word “Lentil”

Here’s an interesting piece of photographic and optical trivia: did you know that the word “lens” came from the Latin name of the lentil plant? The scientific name of the lentil we most commonly eat is Lens culinaris. It was named after the legume because double-convex lenses look just like lentils!

Image credit: Photograph by Justinc

  • fiberguy

    Michael, in French we still use the word “lentille” (the same as lentil) to describe the glass components inside the lens (objectif in French). 

  • Spider- Man

    Explains why my lens is so Kosher…

  • François Cellier

    Haha I was going to say exactly that!

  • jim


  • Michael Gr.

    In German both the glass elements and the plant are called „Linse“ (or „Linsen“ in plural), so not much guessing here, where the name came from. ;) The whole thing, that you put in front of your sensor or film, is called „Objektiv“, though.

  • Charles Gedeon

    Haha! In Arabic it’s also the same word: “Aadaseh” and “Aadaseh” xD! Seems like English isn’t alone at all ;)

  • szielins

    Similarly, “flash” comes from “flasher”, meaning “person who makes strangers regret facing them.”

  • Udaiveer

    In India-Hindi, glass is called “SHEESHAA” n “lead”(Pb) is also called “seesha”

  • helen

    In hungarian language we use the same word for the lens: “lencse” :)