late 15c., "any atmospheric phenomenon," from Middle French meteore (13c.) and directly from Medieval Latin meteorum (nominative meteora), from Greek ta meteora "the celestial phenomena, things in heaven above," plural of meteoron, literally "thing high up," noun use of neuter of meteoros (adj.) "high up, raised from the ground, hanging," from meta- "over, beyond" (see meta-) + -aoros "lifted, hovering in air," related to aeirein "to raise" (see aorta).
Specific sense of "fireball, shooting star" is attested from 1590s. Atmospheric phenomena were formerly classified as