I was surprised just now to learn that the word heroin derives from the trademarked name Heroin, and that the latter name was based on the Latin for “hero,” because the drug made users feel like heroes. I initially assumed that that was folk etymology (remember: etymology by sound is not sound etymology), but the […]
Archive for Etymology
As I’ve been slowly learning Spanish via Duolingo, I’ve found the large number of cognates between Spanish and English very useful. Sometimes, false cognates get in the way; the most common example I see of that is the word embarazada, which English monoglots may assume means “embarrassed,” but which instead means “pregnant.” But setting aside […]
Such a great sounding word, too. Shonky.
esculent: edible, fit to be eaten According to dictionary,com, it originates in the 1620s, from L. esculentus, from esca “food,” from PIE *ed- “to eat” (see eat). (Link and usage examples here) I saw it a while back and hadn’t gotten around to following up on the idea that it would make a great first […]
When I was a kid, I occasionally listened to my father’s LP of Oscar Brand’s Bawdy Songs and Backroom Ballads. One of the songs on the album was “Sam Hall,” which included this line: You’re a bunch of muckers all, damn your eyes. At some point, I asked my father what muckers meant, and he […]
Interesting discussion from 2013 of the in-universe etymology of the word hobbit, along with some discussion of differing ideas of how translation should be done.
I’ve heard characters described as foils of other characters since I was a kid, but I think I always figured that meant that one character could foil another character’s plans or something. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I learned the real etymology: Jewelers often put shiny metal foil underneath a gem to […]
I’ve encountered the term hidalgo in various contexts; it refers to Spanish or Portuguese nobility. The thing that surprised me about that term is the etymology: it’s from Old Spanish fijo dalgo, literally meaning “son of something.” Wikipedia suggests: In the Spanish language of that period, in the phrase Hijo de algo, the word algo […]
This morning, out of the welter of vague half-formed thoughts that ran through my head as I woke up, the first coherent one was something like this: Is litter as...
An article about the origin of the phrase “Great Scott!”. Short version: it's a minced oath, probably originally referring to US General Winfield Scott....