Several English etymological sources say violin is from Latin vitula. A vitula/vitulus is a calf. But why was the instrument named after a calf?
But some sources say this vitula may be from vitulari "to make merry", which is probably related to Vitula "goddess of joy". This would make sense, but it is a little bit vague.
If it is derived from vitula "calf", was it perhaps because the strings were originally made of calf gut? I have not seen this possibility anywhere, but I read somewhere that a vitula could be any stringed instrument.
It seems the goddess and the verb have a long i, whereas the calf and its derivatives have a short i. Another interesting word is Vĭtŭlārĭa via, a road near Arpinum.
As a bonus question, when was this word first used for a musical instrument? Did it happen in Antiquity already, or in Mediaeval Italy, or somewhere else?