25 Common Words With Really Bizarre Origins

Posted by , Updated on March 7, 2017

Whether you are a linguist or just somebody who is interested in finding out where the words we use everyday came from, this list is for you. Some of the most common words in our vocabulary have the coolest histories. These are 25 Common Words With Really Bizarre Origins!

10

Guard

guardSource: wiktionary, Image: commons.wikimedia.org (public domain)

It comes from the French word “garde,” which the French had actually derived from the English word “ward.” Since French doesn’t have a “w” sound they changed the “w” to a “g”. So, French basically borrowed a word from English and then English borrowed the same word back. This is why we have the words “ward” and “warden” as well as “guard” and “guardian.”

9

Nice

niceSource: wiktionary

In Old French, the word initially meant “careless, clumsy, or foolish.” People then started using it in a similar manner to “cool”, “bad”, or “radical.” Over the next 400 years, it eventually transformed to its current meaning.

8

Vodka

vodkaSource: wiktionary, Image: pixabay.com (public domain)

In Russian, you form the diminutive by adding “ka” to the end of the word. (For those of you who don’t know, the diminutive is what you use to refer to things that you consider “cute.” English doesn’t really use this construction as much, but an example would be with names e.g. Jim to Jimmy.) To get to the point, the word for water in Russian is “voda.”

7

Cappuccino

capuccinoSource: wiktionary, Image: pixabay.com (public domain)

The coffee is named after Capuchin monks due to the similarity in color between the monk’s robes and the coffee

6

Laconic

spartaSource: wiktionary, Image: commons.wikimedia.org (public domain: author's life + 70 yrs)

Meaning “of few words,” this term comes from the region of Laconia in Greece where Sparta was located. The Spartans were known for using words sparingly. For example, Philip of Macedon sent them this message, “If I invade Laconia, you will be destroyed, never to rise again.” Their response was one word…”If.”


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