- late Old English, from Latin Venus (plural veneres), in ancient Roman mythology, the goddess of beauty and love, especially sensual love, from venus "love, sexual desire; loveliness, beauty, charm; a beloved object," from PIE root *wen- (1) "to strive after, wish, desire" (cognates: Sanskrit veti "follows after," vanas- "desire," vanati "desires, loves, wins;" Avestan vanaiti "he wishes, is victorious," vayeiti "hunts;" Lithuanian veju "to hunt, pursue;" Old Church Slavonic voji "warrior;" Old English waþ "hunting," wynn "joy," wunian "to dwell," wenian "to accustom, train, wean," wyscan "to wish;" Old Norse veiðr "chase, hunting, fishing"). Applied by the Romans to Greek Aphrodite, Egyptian Hathor, etc.
Applied in English to any beautiful, attractive woman by 1570s. As the name of the most brilliant planet from late 13c., from this sense in Latin (Old English called it morgensteorra and æfensteorra). The venus fly-trap (Dionæa muscipula) was discovered 1760 by Gov. Arthur Dobbs in North Carolina and description sent to Collinson in England. The Central Atlantic Coast Algonquian name for the plant, /titipiwitshik/, yielded regional American English tippity wichity.