Gopher: Etymology of the day

While ultimately obscure, some think gopher, first attested in the early 1800s, comes from the Louisiana French gaufre, “honeycomb” or “waffle,” describing the structure of their burrows. Gaufre may in turn be from a Frankish word related to the Dutch wafel, source of waffle

Screen Shot 2017-08-17 at 8.47.31 AM.jpg

m ∫ r ∫

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Kid: Etymology of the day

Kid, likely borrowed from Old Norse, named a “young goat” (1200s) long before it did “child.” Kid as “child” was a slang term in late 1500s, familiar, though informal, by the late 1800s.

image-841486_1920.jpg
(Pixabay)

m ∫ r ∫

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Nuance: Etymology of the day

The word nuance, first attested in the 1780s, comes from the French for “shade of color,” which in turn goes back to the Latin nubes, “cloud, mist, vapor.”

sky-62732_1920.jpg
Clouds can have a nuanced beauty. (Pixabay)

m ∫ r ∫

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Launch: Etymology of the Day

Via French lancher/lancier, launch ultimately comes from the Latin lancea, a “light spear,” which is also the source of lance (except we’re not using spears anymore…). The verb, first attested in the early 1400s, shifted from “hurl” to “send off,” hence boats and, much more scarily, missiles.

Ángel._Puente_Sant'Angelo_01.JPG
Angel with the lance, Ponte Sant’Angelo, Rome. (Wikimedia Commons)

m ∫ r ∫

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Spurious: Etymology of the Day

Spurious, now meaning “false,” originally described children born out of wedlock—or, more crudely, bastards. It comes from the Latin spurius, an “illegitimate child,” itself possibly of Etruscan origin. The ancient Romans also commonly used Spurius as a given name for such offspring.

800px-Orlando-Ferguson-flat-earth-map_edit.jpg
Flat-Earthers have longed presented spurious evidence for their theories, those bastards. (Wikimedia Commons).

m ∫ r ∫

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Etymology of the day: drastic

In the late 1600s, drastic originally referred to medicine that vigorously acted on the bowels. It comes from the Greek drastikos, “effective,” whose root verb dran, “to do or act,” also gives us the word drama. 

basic-1239214_1920.jpg
(Pixabay)

m ∫ r ∫

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Etymology of the day: neighbor

Neighbor comes from the Old English neahgebur, meaning “near-dweller.” The first part, neah, means and gives us “nigh.” Its modern replacement, near, is the comparative form (faster < fast) of neah, and literally means “more nigh.” The second part, gebur, is “dweller.”

buildings-1209850_1280.jpg
(Pixabay)

m ∫ r ∫

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Etymology of the day: avocado

Today is National Avocado Day. Why don’t you observe it with a little etymology?

Via Spanish, avocado comes from the Nahuatl (Aztec) ahuacatl. It means “testicle.” (Try that on some toast.) The Nahuatl language also gives us the words tomato and chocolate, as I discuss in an old post.

avocado-1712583_1920.jpg
(Pixabay)

m ∫ r ∫

Etymology of the day: woebegone

Woebegone doesn’t mean “Woe, go away!” It means “beset with woe.” The begone comes from an old, obsolete verb, bego, “to go about, surround,” among other senses. So, in Middle English, you might have heard the expression: “Me is wo begon.”

Screen Shot 2017-07-27 at 9.03.14 AM.png
(Frinkiac)

m ∫ r ∫

Etymology of the day: uncouth

Uncouth originally meant “unknown,” from the Old English cuth (known), past participle of cunnan (to know), source of can. Its sense evolved from “unknown” to “strange” to “clumsy” to “unsophisticated.”

Screen Shot 2017-07-26 at 9.00.36 AM.png
(Frinkiac)

m ∫ r ∫