What is the etymology of model? The answer is of course pre-WWW, but the better part of an hour in the library searching both classic model theory and modal logic textbooks turned up nothing. Every book I touched, without exception, uses the word in the usual way - a structure consistent with some theory - but of course gives no justification for it.
I say 'of course' because, given the word's common meaning of 'a representation of something', phrases like 'model theory', 'canonical model', etc. are quite jarring.
To my great relief, a couple of books commented on this jarring nature (it's not only me!) but I am genuinely curious as to who was the first person to use model to mean 'consistent structure', and even more curious as to why they did so.
Thanks one and all for your comments! I've come to realize that I simply had the 'mathematical model' usage of the word etched into my brain, but the past couple of days spent reading 'model' as '(toy) model' have jolted me into agreeing that perhaps 'model' is a reasonable choice of term after all. I still feel (perhaps wrongly, I'm not an expert in model theory) that a word like cast or casting (as in a die-casting) would be better; it conveys a sense of fitting (satisfying) some mould (theory) while still being short and a little light hearted like 'model'. But that is just me, and thanks to the comments here, I think that 'model' is quite good enough.