Medal – a metal disc typically of the size of a large coin and bearing an inscription or design, made to commemorate an event or awarded to someone to having achieved something.
The word ‘medal’ can be traced back to Proto-Indo-Eurpean, but before you start imagining Neolithic people on a podium, it’s worth bearing in mind that the meaning wasn’t the same. ‘Medal’ started out as ‘medho’ in Proto-Indo-Eurpean and meant ‘middle’. In Latin the term became ‘medalia’ and was used to mean ‘half’, it was later used to apply to small coins which were worth half a denarius and then went on to become ‘metallea’ meaning any coin. From coins the word became ‘medaglia’ in Italian and started to be used to refer to to medals too (this was around the 15th centry).