One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
The inhabited or civilized world, specifically that known to the ancient Greeks. Also (in extended use): the inhabited or developed world (or part of it) as known to or embraced by a later civilization.
Early 20th century. From post-classical Latin oecumene (also ecumene) the inhabited earth, the whole world or its etymon ancient Greek οἰκουμένη, probably partly after German Ökumene, † Oekumene and French oecuménée, oecoumène.
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