Mind-Blown People Share The Most Interesting Word Origin They've Ever Heard.

We rarely stop and think about the words we're saying, what they *actually* mean, and where they come from. Here, 29 mind-blown people share the most interesting word origin that they've ever heard.

1/29. The origin of the word testify comes from the Romans when they would place their hands on their testicles in court and swear an oath/give a testimony.


2/29. "Checkmate" comes from the Persian "Shah Mat", which means 'The King is Defeated."


3/29. The current definition of "nimrod" is my favorite. It's a word that was defined by Bugs Bunny.

Nimrod was, originally, a biblical character described as a great hunter. Ol' Bugsy sarcastically called Elmer Fudd "Nimrod"...but since no one really knew the origin, they just figured it was some sort of made-up synonym for idiot...something like a variant of numskull, nincompoop, that sort of thing.

Today, that's what the word more-or-less means. All because of Bugs Bunny.


4/29. The words "Pork" and "Beef" descended from Norman French.

The words "Pig" and "Cow" descended from Old English

Norman Nobles occupied Great Britain in the 11th Century, and were served by Anglo-Saxon servants. The words "Pig" and "Cow" in modern English are used to refer to the live animal, while "Pork" and "Beef" refer to the meat, since the servants tended live animals, and the meat was consumed by the nobles.


5/29. I was about 25 when I realized this: Mediterranean. Medi-Terranean. Middle of the World.


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6/29. Greeks used the word "barbarian" for people who didn't speak Greek, to make fun of them because they thought what they were saying was "bar bar bar."


7/29. Ampersand (&) has a cool origin. The symbol came from Latin by combining the e and t of "et" (and).

For some time, the ampersand was part of the English alphabet at the very end. When reciting the "ABCs", children would say "and per se, and" after z. It was described as being by itself because it wasn't technically a letter.

It stood alone in the alphabet. Ampersand meant: and by itself, and. It was: and+per+se+and. (Per = 'for' or 'by', in Latin. Se= 'itself', 'herself', 'himself'. The same thing can be seen in Spanish.) Later, the phrase was combined into one word and then taken out of the official alphabet altogether.


8/29. The Welsh for Microwave Oven is Popty Ping. As Welsh is a language that is not "maintained" to the same degree as English (or any other world language), they took the word for Oven, and shoved Ping on the end.

Hence, Popty Ping.


9/29. Sinister - from the Latin "sinistra" which means left or left-handed. Left-handed people were considered unlucky, malicious and were not trusted, hence the modern meaning of sinister (this is also why we have the dual meaning of the word 'right' which can refer to the side of the body or something 'correct', as right handedness was associated with being proper or normal).


10/29. Early printing presses needed to conserve space as much as possible, and Italian presses found that slanted fonts could be placed closer together and still be readable. As such, slanted fonts in modern times get called italics, since they are based on the Italian fonts.


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11/29. I like the word pandemonium. It comes from Milton's Paradise Lost, in which Lucifer builds a big fortress for all of his demons, and unsurprisingly it's rather raucous and disorganized as it's filled with demons. It is described as pandemonium, which comes from the greek "pan-" meaning everything or "all of", and 'demonium'.

So it was a place filled with all of the demons. Now it means a fracas or a chaotic situation.


12/29. Nerd was first used by Dr.Seuss to describe a creature in If I Ran the Zoo.


13/29. My grandfather coined the term "multitask"! While working for IBM in 1965 he coauthored a public paper, "Concepts and Facilities of OS/360", in which he used the word "multitask" to describe the method of shared system resources that allows programs to queue multiple tasks to be executed.

He distinguished between "multitask" and the more popular "multiprogramming" as follows:

Multiprogramming: A general term that expresses use of the computing system to fulfill two or more different requirements concurrently.

Multitask operations: Multiprogramming; called multitask operations to express parallel processing not only of many programs, but also of a single re-enterable program used by many tasks.

Task: A unit of work for the central processing unit from the standpoint of the control program; therefore the basic multiprogramming unit under the control program.


14/29. The Greek words for "sharp" and "dull" are "oxy" and "moron".


15/29. Alphabet = alpha beta.

Can't believe I only just realized this.


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16/29. Canary, the bird is named after the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa on which they were found. However, the islands were named for another species that inhabited them, Wild Dogs. The Islands were named after the dogs (Latin Canis) and then later the birds named after the Islands. So when you say Canary, you are really calling a bird a dog.


17/29. Assassin.

During the time of the Crusades, the members of a certain secret Muslim sect engaged people to terrorize their Christian enemies by performing murders as a religious duty.

These acts were carried out under the influence of hashish, and so the killers became known as hashshashin, meaning "eaters or smokers of hashish".

Hashshashin evolved into the word "assassin".


18/29. "Voldemort" means "flight of death" in French.


19/29. Two words in common American English usage that are legacies of the Spanish-American War:

"Cooties" from "kuto", Tagalog/Filipino word for head lice.

"Boondocks" or "Boonies," meaning wilderness, from "bundok", Tagalog/Filipino word for mountain.


20/29. Decimate.

Comes from the Roman punishment of Decimation.

Soldiers were divided into groups of ten and each drew straws. The soldier who drew the short straw would then be killed by the remaining soldiers, hence the name "decimation" or "removal of a tenth".


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21/29. "Bank" in German came from their word for bench (which is also bank), because in old times the would bring their valuables to people sitting downtown on a bench. Then the people on the bench would guard it.


22/29. The word salary comes from the Latin root word sal- which refers to salt (think salinated or saline). The reason it became a term connected with scheduled payment is because among other things Roman Legionnaires were paid in salt, which at the time was considered precious due to the difficulties with mining it.


23/29. Ecstasy comes from the greek: ekstasis, meaning "standing outside oneself".


24/29. Phoney:

British thieves and swindlers of old used the secret codeword "fawney", which referred to a "gilt ring". They would sell these, saying that they were made of real gold.

But the rings were not genuine gold, and the word "phoney", from "fawney" came to be used for anything that is fake or not genuine.


25/29. Berserk.

In Old Norse, this literally means "bear shirt". Back in the days of Vikings and horny helmets, warriors who frequently wore the stylish bear shirt, would work themselves up in a frenzied stage of psychotic rage.

They were quite an intimidating sight on the battlefield and due to some adrenalin fuelled incidences, stories began to be told of them being immune to injury and superhuman strength. So today, berserk means "wild, crazed, frenzied."


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26/29. The word robot was originally used in a play called "R.U.R." ("Rossum's Universal Robots") by Karel Capek and comes from the Czech word robotnik which means slave.


27/29. Stereotype was a word use amongst printers, printing the same thing over and over again. And to boot, the word Cliche came from the same place, as it was the sound produced from that type of printing.


28/29. The fruit (or vegetable, I'm not totally sure) avocado was originally called the ahucati by the Aztecs which literally meant testicle because avocados share a striking resemblance to... well testicles. Anyway along come the Spanish and somehow they think ahucati sounds like Avocado which means Advocate in Spanish.


29/29. Lesbian was derived from the name of the isle of Lesbos. Lesbos was famous for one female poet Sappho who wrote Passionate works, sometimes pertaining to acts of lesbianism, perhaps more pansexual these days but it was enough to stick.




In life, sometimes there's wrong and "technically not wrong" - and the difference can often be hilarious.

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