Etymology, Part 9

1. Avocado (Origin: Nahuatl)

The word avocado comes from Spanish aguacate, which in turn comes from the Nahuatl ahuacatl, meaning testicle. Surprised? Perhaps, but the more one thinks about it, the less surprising it gets — they do rather resemble a man’s soft spot, and this resemblance becomes even more pronounced when you see avocado duos dangling clumsily from trees.

Nahuatl is the language of the Aztecs and is still spoken by approximately 1.5 million people native to Mexico and other parts of Central America. Avocado isn’t the only Nahuatl word that has been borrowed by the English language; chili, chocolate, tomato and guacamole were also coined by speakers of Nahuatl. Indeed, the mole of guacamole is derived from the Nahuatl molli, which means sauce. It’s a good thing the origin of this word has been obfuscated on its way into the English language. Otherwise, guacamole (Nahuatl: ahuacamolli) probably wouldn’t be as popular as it is.

2. Cappuccino (Origin: Italian/German)

Next time you’re trying to flirt with someone at your local coffee shop, impress them with this whimsical anecdote about the origin of the word cappuccino:

it’s the diminutive form of the word cappuccio, which means “hood” in Italian. Wondering what the link is between a (little) hood and a cappuccino? One must look no further than the Capuchin Monks, whose hooded habits were a dark, oak brown similar to the color of a good cappuccino.

The first recorded use of the word was in 1790 in Vienna, Austria. Wilhelm Tissot jotted down a recipe for an exquisite Kapuzinerkaffee (lit. “Capuchin coffee”), which was rather different in constitution to its modern-day successor, containing sugar, cream and egg yolks. The current, somewhat simplified recipe now consists of espresso and foamed milk, but there are still parts of Austria where you can order a good ol’ Kapuziner.

3. Disaster (Origin: Italian/Greek)

The word disaster has been passed around Europe like a hot potato. The English version is most closely tied to the French désastre, which is derived from the Old Italian disastro, itself derived from Greek. The pejorative prefix dis- and aster- (star) can be interpreted as bad star, or an ill-starred event. The ancient Greeks were fascinated by astronomy and the cosmos, and believed wholly in the influence of celestial bodies on terrestrial life. For them, a disaster was a particular kind of calamity, the causes of which could be attributed to an unfavorable and uncontrollable alignment of planets. It’s therefore interesting to note that the strict, modern English definition of disaster explicitly stipulates that a disaster is human-made, or the consequence of human failure.

4. Handicap (Origin: English)

This word originates from the 17th-century English trading game “hand-in-cap.” The game involved two players and an arbitrator, or umpire. The players would present two possessions they would like to trade. The umpire would then decide whether the possessions were of equal value or not, and if they weren’t, would calculate the discrepancy. The owner of the lesser object would make up the difference with money, and then all three participants would place forfeit money into a hat. If the two players agreed with the umpire’s valuation, they would remove their hands from the hat with their palm open. If they disagreed, they would pull out their hands clenched in a fist. If both agreed or disagreed, the umpire would get the forfeit money, while if one agreed and the other didn’t, the player who approved the transaction would receive the forfeit money.

Over time, hand-in-cap came to be known as “handicap” and started to be used to refer to any kind of equalization or balancing of a contest or game. The word handicap is still used in many sports today, such as golf and horse racing. Indeed, horse racing was probably the first sport to introduce the term in order to define an umpire’s decision to add more weight to a horse so that it runs equally to its competitors. This notion of being burdened or put at a disadvantage was carried over to describe people with a disability in the early 20th century. By the mid-20th century, it was widely used, but it has since fallen out of the popular lexicon.

5. Jeans (Origin: Italian)

Although jeans are quintessentially American, and their invention is commonly attributed to Jacob W. Davis and Levi Strauss, the etymology of the popular garment is actually of European origin. The fabric Strauss used for his patented, mass-produced trousers was first produced in Genoa, Italy and Nimes, France. Why’s that significant?

Well, the French word for Genoa is Gênes, and the name “jeans” is likely an anglicization of the material’s city of origin. Similarly, the word “denim” most likely comes from de Nimes, meaning “from Nimes” in French. Although we often talk about denim jeans nowadays, the two materials actually differed. Denim was coarser, more durable and of higher quality than the toughened cotton corduroy manufactured in Genoa. Workers in Northern Italy were sporting jeans as early as the 17th century, long before post-war American subcultures picked up on them as a fashion accessory.

6. Salary (Origin: Latin)

The word “salary” comes from the Latin salarium, meaning “salt money.” In ancient times, salt was used for many important things and was often referred to as “white gold.” It could be used as an antiseptic to treat wounds — (in Romance languages one can recognize a connection between sal/sale, meaning “salt,” and salud/saude/salute, meaning “health”) — and to preserve food; also as a method of payment in Greece and Rome.

As far back as the Egyptian Empire, laborers were paid with salt that they could use to preserve their food. The Roman Empire continued using this form of payment and it took on the name “salary” for “that which was given to workers at the end of the working month,” which adds a new dimension to the notion of a company’s solvency.

7. Trivial (Origin: Latin)

“Trivial” originates from the Latin word trivium, which was used to mean “a place where three roads meet” (tri- meaning “three,” and -vium from via, meaning “road”). A trivium gained the connotation of being an open, public place — a mini agora— where people from across society’s technicolor spectrum could relax, chat and simply coexist. The adjective trivialis was a derivative of trivium and came to mean “vulgar, ordinary, of little importance, common and contemporary,” and the English adjective trivial carries much of this definition to this day: tired, ordinary, commonplace; of little use, import, consequence or significance.

8. Whiskey (Origin: Gaelic)

Medieval monks called it aqua vitae, meaning “life water.” The expression was transformed into uisce beatha when it was transferred to Gaelic. As time passed and the word was anglicized, uisce evolved into uige, usque, and then uisky, which bears an obvious and close resemblance to “whiskey.”

You may have noticed that you can spell the drink two different ways — “whiskey” and “whisky.” Some people believe the extra “e” was added by Irish and American distilleries to differentiate their higher quality whiskeys during a period when Scottish whisky had a bad reputation.

Scotch was also introduced to denominate a Scottish whisky, and the word “whiskey” has been adopted in other countries for quite different reasons. In some South American countries, it’s used as an alternative to “cheese” to encourage people to smile when being photographed. How and why we chose “cheese,” and why the South Americans chose “whiskey” is a story for another time.

135 thoughts on “Etymology, Part 9

  1. Patience
    January 20, 2023 3:21 pm

    JUST IN:

    House GOP exploring investigation into Adam Schiff for knowingly lying about Trump’s Russian collusion.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. JAN 20 • 1HR 22M
    “How The Moderna v Pfizer Lawsuit Over Covid “Vaccine” Patents Could Confirm That It’s Actually a Bioweapon — During this episode of In the Foxhole, Karen Kingston and Jeff Dornik discuss how this case could confirm what a lot of us have been saying for a long time… that the jabs are actually a bioweapon.”

    EXCERPT: “In an interesting development, Moderna is suing for patent infringement after Pfizer allegedly took their patents and used them to develop the “vaccine” for covid-19, all without paying royalties. It’s an interesting development that has the potential to document much of what we’ve been saying about the jabs.

    As Karen Kingston and I discussed in this episode of In The Foxhole (which airs every Thursday at 6pm ET), this lawsuit very well may get ugly. When cases get ugly, accusations begin to hurl… which can play well to our movement as we look to expose the truth about these bioweapon injections.
    For me, as an outsider looking in, if these two Pharmaceutical giants duke it out in court over these patents, there are surely going to be wild accusations thrown at the other side. If this happens, we’ll have a more clear picture of how these bioweapons were developed and, hopefully, they’ll be forced to confirm the reality of what people like Kingston have been exposing, whether directly or indirectly.

    And we can’t lose sight that the ultimate Bond villain in this fiasco is Albert Bourla, CEO of Pfizer. As Karen explained, Pfizer has pulled this with patents before, so this isn’t anything new. But given the current state of what’s going on, this could have huge implications towards exposing the reality that these are, in fact, bioweapon injections.”

    Audio link:

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow! This is a VERY long, detailed analysis and well worth the read. For now… is the ending:

    “Final Analysis — Here’s the final analysis. If Trump’s public recurring endorsement of the COVID-19 “vaccinations” in dismissing the adverse effects, injury and death is a political tactic, it’s a poor one that will drive portions of his base to his biggest rival in the primary, Ron DeSantis. As was suggested to me, this cold be a constructed exit strategy from politics for Trump, but I don’t believe that is the case just like I don’t believe the recurring “vaccine” endorsement is a political maneuver or tactic.

    Rather, I believe Trump’s recurring “vaccine” endorsement is a tactic and maneuver relative to enterprise fraud and the compartmentalization of culpability and it’s one to force the hands of the Department of Defense, the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of Health and Human Services, et al.

    Here’s how and why I say that.

    First, we have the evidence of the compartmentalization of culpability for all mitigations as it occurred in April 2020 and that would include the recommendation to move forward with mRNA vaccinations. We also have the U.S. patent evidence that their portrayal of the mRNA technology as new is fraudulent and this bears down on adverse reactions, injury and death that they knew would occur.

    Trump’s recurring “vaccine” endorsement boxes in the complicit and criminal federal entities in binary fashion:

    1-They must agree with Trump moving forward so that they can attempt to later blame Trump for Operation Warp Speed, the “vaccine” roll-out and all of the resulting damage and death the “vaccines” caused. At that later time likely centered on 2024 and in contrast to the establishment candidate DeSantis, Trump can undo it all by leveraging his compartmentalization of culpability in them to bend it back against them and emerge unscathed. The “vaccines” could then be removed from the market completely.


    2-They must disagree with Trump, which forces them to admit that the mRNA vaccinations do in fact cause damage and death and should be immediately removed from the market completely. As they blame Trump for it, he can leverage his compartmentalization of culpability in them to emerge unscathed and remain a viable candidate.

    Trump’s recurring “vaccine” endorsement remains problematic but we can only hope it serves a greater purpose as delineated in this article. If it doesn’t, we may be in a worse situation than we realize. Regardless, Trump has them boxed in and it began during the April 2020 press conference. The only question that remains is when will Trump make the move to hang these criminals with a rope they braided themselves.

    As I continue to say, these people play inside of a box and it makes them entirely predictable. Those people are also trapped inside of that box and it could be there is no exit aside from the gallows for “crimes against humanity.”

    You can watch the full April 2020 press conference here: VIDEO.


    Liked by 1 person

  4. WTM

    This is a big deal and I need you to share this with all the Political Prisoners and the Media if you can. We got Jim Jordan to agree today to bring the prisoners in to testify to Congress about their treatment since their arrests! Here is the Audio and the Press Release and the Letter that I could not release to you or Jake until now.

    Tom Zawistowski
    We The People Convention, Ohio


    Liked by 1 person

    1. “Akron, OH: Today, Tom Zawistowski, President of the TEA Party affiliated We the People Convention (WTPC), announced that Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan, committed on the Bob Frantz radio show this morning that his committee would look into bringing January 6th Political Prisoners and/or their family members in to testify to Congress about the disparate mistreatment that they have endured over the past two years. Jordan’s committment came in response to a letter from Ohio Patriot Group Leaders.(See Below) The full audio of that radio interview is available by clicking the Play Arrow above.

      Zawistowski, wrote the letter to Jordan on December 9, 2022, which was co-signed by 25 leaders in Ohio, to bring the plight of these citizens to the attention of the American people who have been intentionally kept in the dark about the injustices that have been committed upon them by the Biden Administration’s DOJ, FBI and the Federal Courts.”

      Liked by 1 person

  5. defund planned parenthood bill
    Colorado Representative Lauren Boebert (R) filed a bill on Friday to defund the abortion provider Planned Parenthood, Fox News Digital reported.

    The Defund Planned Parenthood Act, Boebert’s first proposed legislation of the new year, seeks to put an end to the clinic receiving millions of taxpayer dollars each year.

    In 2022, the abortion provider and its affiliates received more than $633 million from taxpayers.

    If passed, the proposed legislation will redirect those funds to “Federally Qualified Health Centers” that provide women with health care services, including pap smears, cancer screenings, and family planning services.

    “The nation’s largest abortion provider has no business receiving taxpayer dollars,” Boebert said of the bill. “Planned Parenthood claims these funds go to healthcare for women, but last year, Planned Parenthood performed a record number of abortions while also reducing the number of well-woman exams and breast cancer screenings it performed.”

    “Instead of funding Planned Parenthood, my bill will redirect this funding to community health centers that focus on healthy women, not killing babies,” Boebert added.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I am adding a short daily prayer to the board. I would invite each of you, if you wish, to also add one or maybe two of your own liking. I do not want to stifle anyone but please limit yourself to one or two religious postings. here’s one I found that I liked.


Comments are closed.