Word Play #2/3 | Word Origins

When I was at school, people would joke “why did they call it that?”, “why would someone call a table a table?”, “who’s job even is it to name things?”, and it’s such a good question. Unless you ask, and find out, you’ll never know.

And for your information, table comes from the Latin word “tabula”, meaning plank or tablet, eventually used in Old English “tabule” as “flat slab”. ๐Ÿ˜‰

This week’s Word Play will focus on a list of interesting (well, I think so) word origins of some pretty common words.

View last weeks “Word Play #1/3 | Collective Nouns for Animals” here.

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Quarantine:

…comes from the French “qarante” for 40. Ships arriving into port, suspected of carrying disease, had to wait for around 40 days before coming in contact with the shore in order to prevent the spread of disease.

Lunatic:

…comes from the Latin word “luna”, meaning “moon”. It was believed that the changes in the moon were the cause of insanity.

Blue Moon Positions Luna Lunatic

Disaster:

…comes from the Greek’s “dis” meaning bad, and “aster”, meaning star. The ancient Greeks used to blame ‘disasters’ and unfortunate events on the positions of planets.

Neighbour:

…comes from Old English for “near-by-farmer”, referring to your friend on the next farm.

Pigs

Pope:

…comes from the Greek word “papas”, meaning “father”. This developed into the Latin “papa”, referring to the bishop of Rome, the “father” of the Roman Catholic Church.

Berserk:

…comes from the ancient, violent Norse fighters that were known as “Berserkers”.

Nightmare:

…comes from the Old English word “mare”, which refers to the folklore demon that comes to suffocate you in your sleep, causing bad dreams.

John Henry Fuseli - The Nightmare Mare Demon

Oyster:

…comes from the Greek word “ostreon” meaning “hard shell”.

Buck (American Dollar):

…comes from the American frontier, where deerskins were used as units of commerce.

Vivid:

…comes from the Latin word “vivere”, meaning “life” or “to live”. For example, a vivid description is a description that is full of life.

Vivid Colour

Noon:

…comes from the Latin phrase “nona hora” which means “ninth hour”. As a Roman day started at 6am, noon originally was the ninth hour of their day, being 3pm.

Rage:

…comes from a Latin word “rabies” meaning madness and fury. This is also the origin of our word “rabies”, the disease.

Tulip:

…comes from the Persian word “dulband”, meaning turban, referring to the turban-like shape of the flower head.

Tulip

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Do you have a favourite word origin? Do you know any others?

-Morgan

9 thoughts on “Word Play #2/3 | Word Origins

  1. Pingback: November | The Secret Diary of a Computer Science Student

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