More often than not, we speak this wonderful language called English, using words big and small, in our daily conversations, without really wondering how some of these words originally came from. The field dealing with the origin of words is Etymology. Today I thought we could have a look at some curious word origins. Some of these are English, some French, German, Latin and Greek, from which ultimately good old English borrowed and stole and enriched herself. Enjoy the words with me today!
Did you ever wonder where the word “addict” originated from? Well in the days of the Romans, slaves were given to Roman soldiers to reward them for their performance in battle. These slaves were known as addicts. Eventually a person who was a slave to anything was known as addict. How strange that addiction is no more any form of reward or gratification but most often an evil habit!
And what about “alcohol”, the overindulgence of which makes men, beasts. This word comes from the Arabic word “Al-Kohl”, which means a fine power, used for eye makeup. It conveyed the idea of something fine and subtle, like alcohol going down smoothly. Interestingly the first alcohol produced was invented by Islamic Arabs, who did not drink because their religion forbade it. Imagine inventing something and watching a tipsy, topsy turvy world making fools of themselves while remaining sober!
Asthma, good ole asthma means oppression and there is no doubt that the word which originates from Latin, has been rightly named.
Coming down to the “ballot” yes the ballot war that we just saw Trump fighting; well ballot in Italian mean “small pebble” Italian citizens once voted by casting a small pebble into a box. I guess the pebbles being cast nowadays are no more that small, what with stones and insults, being cast instead!
Next time as you chew your biscuit during tea time, remember it comes from the French word “Bis + cuit” which means “cooked twice.” So it’s not our teeth which can’t bite into them that we need to dip them into our tea, it’s the cook’s formula.
Cab, I’m talking of the taxicab, is an old Italian term for goat. Heard that, you taxi drivers, who dump us around, like goats jumping off a mountain slope?
And the word forest came from the French word meaning “outside.” Does seem logical, as you hardly hear of a forest, inside!
Here’s one to make the ladies blush. The word “gorilla” is New Latin for a tribe of hairy women. Imagine that! And for you men “gymnasium” the place you go to build your Salman Khan muscles, means the place where “you train naked.” Ha, ha!
Well that’s all for today folks, and hope you realize there’s history behind the English you use…!
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