Top 10 Everyday Words With Weird Origins


Words have surrounded us for eternity, and their existence makes communication possible. Most of us are clueless regarding the origins of the words, and only a handful have had the distinct honor of naming an object recognized by the reputed dictionaries. In order to curb the curiosities of the countless, we have compiled a list of words bearing strange origins.

10. Cappuccino


Now, who would have thought that the word cappuccino would be derived from the clothing of monks? Only Marty and Rust from the acclaimed series True Detective might have been able to link Cappuccino and the Capuchin monks. Espresso, hot milk and milk foam goes into making a cappuccino. Moving further without beating about the bush, it is reported that the capuchin monks of the 16th century regularly strutted the streets of Italy wearing long and pointy hoods, known as capuche. The monks subsequently received a formal nickname, Capuchin, for their stand out hoods. As, it turns out, the brown shade of the hoods then proved to be instrumental in the naming of the coffee drink. This event took place around the 20th Century. This origin of the word makes us believe that the world is a small place linked to everything, and one can derive inspiration from anything.

9. Salary

Payment day

We believe no one really needs an introduction to salary. We just gain immeasurable pleasure when it is that time of the month to receive our salary, don’t we? For the impatient blokes, we’ll immediately get into further details behind the origin of the word. Many centuries ago, salt was truly treasured and people had figured by then, that the ingredient improved flavor ten fold. So, Roman soldiers worth their salts were given money- a salarium to buy salt. We now know where the term “worth their salt” truly originates from. As time flew by, salarium (derived from the Latin word Salarius ‘of salt’) started being known as money received by the soldiers. As people started getting lazier and less creative, the term broadened, and it started being recognized as money paid to anyone in general. Receiving salary is sweet, but knowing the origin of the term leads us to question the taste buds of the people back then.

8. Robot


The guys can truly vouch for this; we genuinely had an epic childhood with the presence of robots. A robot doesn’t have feelings, and it does what the master commands. The name Robot is derived from a Czech word Robata which translates to forced labor. Well, it is certainly not forced if the robots don’t object, is it? Getting into details, the word was initially brought into light by the Czech writer Karel Capek. His play, Rossum’s Universal Robots, which was released in 1920 first featured the word. Brace yourself for a twist; it was later revealed that the word was, in fact, coined by Karel’s brother Josef Capek. This information gained momentum when Karel wrote a letter to the Oxford English Dictionary, where he mentioned Josef of being the creative force behind the word’s origins. People of this century might not have adopted the same measures, but people back then valued loyalty before everything else.

7. Avocado


The avocado tree is originated from Central America and Mexico. The plant is cultivated in countries with very warm or hot climates. The fruit, when ripened, is very tasty and is used in many savory dishes. The fruit consists 67% fat and mostly made up of oleic acid and monounsaturated fat. An oil is extracted from the fat found in this fruit, and can be used in cosmetics, lubricants, and cooking oil. Avocado oil is also used in the manufacturing of numerous skin-care products. The original name for avocado is Ahuacatl, an Aztec word which means testicle. It can also be used as an aphrodisiac to stimulate the sex drive. So the next time you pick up a beautiful avocado at the market, do not think about the origin of the word, but the tasty and savoury dishes that you can create with this fruit. We will vote to keep the current name “avocado” as the testicle fruit just might not bode well with everyone.

6. Juggernaut


According to esteemed dictionaries, a juggernaut is a huge, powerful, and overwhelming force. It is something that cannot be stopped. The word originates from the land of Gods and Goddesses, India. The term bears its origins from the Hindi word Jagannath which translates to Lord of the World. During the 14th century, devotees of the Hindu God Vishnu would sacrifice themselves by being trampled on by humongous carts, also known as Ratha Yatra temple car. God Vishnu is known to be the creator, preserver and destroyer of everything. The lord is the master of the past, the present and future. The carriages were known to hold images of the Almighty. It is just mighty scary, isn’t it? How could one possibly sacrifice one’s life without doing anything productive? Human sacrifices are very mysterious, and it allows us to ponder if we are truly capable of being emotionless and selfless. No one, bar the casualties, really knows if the sacrifices turned out to be fruitful.

5. Whisky


No great story ever started with someone eating a delicious salad. Many forgettable and unforgettable incidents have occurred with the intake of whisky. For all the people who do not have a clue to the meaning of whisky, whisky is a spirit distilled from malted grain, barley or rye. Kids shouldn’t try it, it will cause them to choke on their puke. The word whisky is originated from the Old English word usquebae. The word is derived from the words uisce, which means water, and bethu, which translates to life. Summing it up, the word whisky basically means ‘’water of life.’’ We have finally come across something that makes total sense. The spelling of this particular term is often confusing. People in the States and Canada usually spell the term as whiskey while whisky is more common in Japan, Scotland, England and Wales. We have opted for whisky because we’ve just downed a couple of pegs, and we don’t care.

4. Hazard


As children, we’ve been told by our parents not to go near hazardous objects. We are all grown up now, and we intend to tackle the origins of the word hazard. A hazard is defined as a dangerous situation that poses a threat to life, health and environment. Hazards are normally dormant, but if active, it could cost someone’s life; once bitten twice, there won’t be a twice. The word hazard is reported to have been derived at the time of the Crusaders. Historians believe that the word originated from the Arabic word al-zahr which translates to dice. Players would then use the al-zahr as means to gamble and bet on. Those who would make correct predictions would be deemed the winners. It’s funny how the word would evolve to be what it is from a game of dice. It would have only done justice to the word if the losers of the game lost their lives.

3. Trivia


We have been tempted to punch kids who’ve pestered us with annoying trivia, haven’t we? It would have been all good, had we known the answers to their endless questions. The fact of the matter is that we didn’t and we simply looked like losers. Well here’s an opportunity to get back at them, without violence of course. The word trivia originates from the Latin word trivium (plural trivia), where “tri” stands for triple and “via” means way. So, basically, the word means a place where three ways meet; it is an intersection of three roads. This word gained prominence in Rome. People of Rome would often chit-chat with others when they met at a trivium; women probably went about gossiping and men very likely talked about the stinking government. The word trivalis in Classical Latin meant an appropriate street corner and commonplace. In medieval times, the word gained broader meaning and came to refer grammar, rhetoric and logic.

2. Muscle


All of us know where muscles come from. It comes from countless hours in the gym followed with a strict diet. It requires discipline and hot girls at the gym to serve as motivators. All brawns and no brains make us Johnny Bravo. So, here’s a bit of insight to the origins of the word muscle. Muscle is derived from the Latin word musculus which translates to little mouse. So, people from ancient Rome thought it made sense to call the muscles flexing from one’s body little mouse. They thought a flexed muscle bore a striking resemblance to a moving mouse with the tendon serving as the mouse’s tail. If that was the trend now, many of us would actually use it as an excuse to stay away from the gym. How strange would a world be if muscular men had to cower for fear of being ridiculed by the society?

1. Handicap


Handicap has been defined as a condition that markedly restricts a person’s ability to function physically, mentally, or socially. The term also means a disadvantage imposed on a superior competitor in sports such as golf, horse racing, and competitive sailing in order to make the chances more equal. Now that the definition of the word is done and dusted, it is time to move forward to the interesting part. The word handicap is known to originate from the old English trading game Hand-in-cap. The game was based on trading possessions, and proceedings would take place with the help of an umpire. The umpire had a responsibility to decide if the items were valued the same, and if not, he had to decide what the difference was. The two players then put the money in a cap. They had to place their hands in the cap and subsequently remove them either holding money or not, to show if they had accepted the terms of the deal. If the two players had similar opinions of the valuation, the umpire would go away the money.

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