Curious and funny origins of words. . !


FOR many years I had a weekly column discussing the origin of our English words! Most often, we speak this wonderful language, without really checking where certain words come from.

The field dealing with the origin of words is etymology. Today I thought we might take a look at some curious word origins. Some of the origins are English, others French, German, Latin and Greek, from which good old English eventually borrowed, stole and enriched. Enjoy words with me today!

Have you ever wondered where the word “addict” comes from? Well, in the days of the Romans, slaves were given to Roman soldiers as a reward for their performance in battle. These slaves were known as drug addicts. Eventually, a person who was a slave to anything was known as an addict. How strange that addiction is no longer a form of reward or gratification but more often than not a bad habit!

And what about “alcohol”, the drink that makes men beasts. This word comes from the Arabic word “Al-Kohl”, which means a fine powder used for eye makeup. It conveyed the idea of ​​something fine and subtle, like alcohol going down slowly. Interestingly, the first alcohol produced was invented by the Arabs, who did not drink because their religion forbade it. Imagine inventing something and watching an upside down world make a fool of itself while staying sober!

Asthma, good old asthma means oppression and there is no doubt that this word, which comes from Latin, has been well named. Coming to the “ballot”, well ballot in Italian means “little pebble”. Italian citizens used to vote by throwing a small pebble into a box. I guess the pebbles thrown these days aren’t small anymore, with stones and boulders thrown at politicians instead!

The next time you bite into your teatime biscuit, remember that it comes from the French word “Bis + cooked” which means “cooked twice”. So it’s not our teeth that can’t bite into them that we have to dip them in our tea, it’s the formula of the cooks. Cab, I mean taxi, is an old Italian term for goat. Yes, you taxi drivers, who drop us everywhere, you are like goats jumping from a mountain slope. And here’s one for Robin Hood and the late Veerapan. The word forest comes from the French word meaning “outside”. We now know why those who settle “outside” become outlaws, Robin Hood and Veerapan included. Here’s one to make you blush ladies:

The word “gorilla” is New Latin for a tribe of hairy women. Imagine that! And for you men, the “gym”, the place where you go to build your image of Salman Khan, means the place where “you train naked”. Ha ha! Well, that’s it for today friends, and I hope you realize there’s history and fun behind the words we use…!


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