25 Interesting And Somewhat Strange Word Origins

Posted by on May 15, 2014

Did you know that the word “mortgage” comes from a French expression meaning “death pledge”? These are 25 interesting and somewhat strange word origins.



25

Jumbo was most likely originally the word for "elephant" in a west African language. It took on the meaning of "large" when an elephant in London zoo was named Jumbo in 1860

24

Quarantine comes from the French "qarante" for 40. Whenever a ship arriving in port was suspected of being infected it had to forego contact with the shore for a period of about 40 days.



23

Hazard comes from the Arabic "al zahr" which means "the dice". The term came to be associated with dice during the Crusades and eventually took on a negative connotation because games of dice were associated with gambling

22

Disaster comes from the Greek "dis" meaning bad, and "aster", meaning star. The ancient Greeks used to blame calamities on unfavorable planetary positions.



21

Lemur comes from a Latin word that means "spirit of the dead". The person that named them cited their nocturnal nature as a source of influence.