We are back with more of these words with interesting origins and this has been one of my favorite collections of words so far.
Who would have thought that the word ‘gossip’ comes from ‘godfather’ for example?
An obsolete sense of garble is ‘to cleanse or sift’,
which seems far removed from the sense of ‘to
distort or jumble’. The word comes from Italian
garbellare, from Arabic ghirbāl a sieve.
Flemish chemist JB van Helmont (1577–1644) claimed
the word gas as his own invention, suggested by
Greek chaos, describing the nature of the substance.
gorilla comes from Greek Gorillai, who were reported
by the explorer Hanno theCarthaginian around the 5th
century BC to be a tribe of hairy women.
A gossip was once ‘a familiar friend,’ and ultimately
comes from Old English godsibb, godfather.
grenade is French, coming from Spanish granada,
pomegranate, which itself comes
from Latin grānātus, full of seeds.
halibut comes from holy butt, a fish eaten on holy days.
handicap apparently comes from hand i’ cap,
from the drawing of lots from a cap in an
hippopotamus is Latin, from Greek hippopotamus,
from hippos, a horse, and potamos, a
river, making a hippopotamus a ‘river horse’.
infant comes from Latin īnfāns, from in- not,
and fāns, speaking; an infant is one who
is not able to speak.
jeopardy comes from French jeu parti, a divided
or even game, ie an even chance.
jubilee is from French jubilé, originally from
Hebrew yōbēl, which was a ram’s horn
once used in Jewish culture to proclaim the
jubilee year (every 50th year, when
slaves were released and debts cancelled).
Juggernaut comes from Jugannath, an incarnation
of Vishnu, whose idol at the festival
of Puri is traditionally drawn on a processional chariot.
karaoke is Japanese for ‘empty orchestra’.
khaki in Urdu and Persian has the meaning ‘dusty’.
lens comes from Latin lēns, lentis, lentil (describing the shape).
maudlin comes from Middle English Maudelein,
from Greek Magdalēnē, (woman)
of Magdala, from the assumption that Mary
Magdalene was the tearful, penitent
woman in the Bible, Luke 7.38.
money comes ultimately from monēta money, a mint.
Monēta was an epithet of Juno, in
whose temple in Rome money was coined.
pamphlet possibly comes from a Latin erotic poem
Pamphilus (from Greek Pamphilos,
beloved of all) that was very popular in the Middle Ages.
Pandemonium was the capital of Hell in
Milton’s Paradise Lost.
panic comes from Greek pānikon (deima),
panic (fear), ie fear associated with the god Pan.
paparazzi is the plural of paparazzo;
Paparazzo was the surname of a photographer in
the film La Dolce Vita (1960) by Federico Fellini.
Next week we conclude our look at these words with interesting origins.
* All words in this blog post have been supplied by The 12th edition of The Chambers Dictionary. ISBN 97805501002379