The word angel in English is a blend of Old English engel (with a hard g) and Old French angele. Both derive from Late Latin angelus "messenger", which in turn was borrowed from Late Greek ἄγγελος aggelos, commonly transliterated by non-Greek speakers in its phonetic form ángelos. According to R. S. P. Beekes, ángelos itself may be "an Oriental loan, like ἄγγαρος [ángaros, 'Persian mounted courier']." The word's earliest form is Mycenaean a-ke-ro, attested in Linear B syllabic script.
The ángelos is the Septuagint's default translation of the Biblical Hebrew term mal’ākh, denoting simply "messenger" without specifying its nature. In the Latin Vulgate, the meaning becomes bifurcated: when mal’ākh or ángelos is supposed to denote a human messenger, words like nuntius or legatus are applied. If the word refers to some supernatural being, the word angelus appears. Such differentiation has been taken over by later vernacular translations of the Bible, early Christian and Jewish exegetes and eventually modern scholars.