Richard-Business Eng
Professional Teacher
5 interesting word origins - the etymology of 5 common English words

1. Avocado (noun): a pear-shaped fruit with a rough leathery skin, smooth oily edible flesh, and a large stone.


The word for avocado comes from the Aztec word, "ahuacatl," which means testicle. Aside from the similar shape, avocados also act as aphrodisiacs, foods that stimulate sex drive.<o:p></o:p>

2. Jumbo (adjective): very large, unusually for its type


In 1880, P.T. Barnum bought an elephant, named "Jumbo," from the Royal Zoological Society in London. By age 7, this pachyderm consumed 200 pounds of hay, one barrel of potatoes, two bushels of oats, 15 loaves of bread, a slew of onions, and several pails of water every day. His caretaker at the zoo also gave him a gallon or two of whiskey every now and then.<o:p></o:p>

At full size, Jumbo stood at 11-and-a-half feet tall and weighed six-and-half tons.<o:p></o:p>

His name likely stems from two Swahili words: "jambo," meaning hello and "jumbe," or chief. <o:p></o:p>

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3. Clue (noun): a fact or idea that serves as a guide or aid in a task or problem


According to Greek mythology, when Theseus entered the Labyrinth to kill the minotaur (a half-man, half-bull), he unraveled a "clew" — a ball of string — behind him, so he could find his way back.<o:p></o:p>

The word "clue" didn't even exist until the mid-1500s when people started to vary the spelling of "clew."<o:p></o:p>

4. Robot (noun): a machine capable of carrying out a complex series of actions automatically, especially one programmable by a computer


The word "robot" comes from the Czech word "robota," meaning "forced labor" — which sounds strangely like slavery.

Remember the movie "iRobot"?<o:p></o:p>


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5. Whiskey (noun): a spirit distilled from malted grain, especially barley or rye


Whiskey is the shortened form of whiskeybae, which comes from the Old English "usquebae," derived from two Gaelic words: uisce (water) and bethu (life). Thus, whiskey literally means "water of life."


Do you know any interesting etymological definitions (in English or your native language)?<o:p></o:p>

Jun 3, 2018 5:27 PM
Comments · 1

The word slave comes from the Latin word sclavus which in English translates to "Slav"

This is because in the 9th century many Eastern Europeans were conquered and made into slaves. 

June 3, 2018