Words Gone Wild: The Eccentric Histories Behind 30 English Terms

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The word "thug" originates from a murderous Indian cult that strangled travelers to death. The cult operated for over 500 years and may have killed millions of people.

2. The word "Gauze" is derived from Gaza because this ancient city was known for making very fine fabrics.

3. The name gorilla is derived from the Greek word ‘Gorillai’ meaning ‘a tribe of hairy women.’

4. The term ‘lord’ is derived from Old English 'hlaford', which roughly translates to ‘loaf guardian’. So a host (noble) handing out bread to his followers signified loyalty between the Anglo-Saxon lord and his warriors.

5. The word barbarian originates from Ancient Greeks impersonating Persian speech which they heard as sounding like "bar bar bar bar."

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The word "darling" is derived from an old English term meaning "favorite minion."

7. The word "candidate" is derived from the Latin word "candidatus" which means "whitened". The word refers to the whitened togas that Romans wore specifically during election campaigns.

8. The term X-mas doesn't originate from the deletion or "x-ing" out of Christ like some people believe. The X is taken from the Greek word "Χριστός" or khristós (the anointed one).

9. 'Austria' is derived from the Latin word for 'Eastern', whereas 'Australia' is derived from the Latin word for 'Southern'.

10. The term “Chronic” (in relation to Marijuana) originates from Snoop Dogg mistaking the term “hydroponic” for “hydrochronic” when he was first introduced to indoor-grown marijuana in the early 90’s.

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The word “canvas” is derived from the word “cannabis” because canvas used to be made from hemp fiber.

12. The word "yolk" is derived from an Old English word that means "yellow." So egg white and egg yellow.

13. The word "Swag" originates from the Scandinavian word svagga which refers to a saggy bag and dates back to 200 years.

14. The phrase "log in" is derived from entries made in ships' logs, which are in turn derived from actual logs.

15. The word 'Panic' originated from the Greek god 'Pan', who is often depicted with a large and erect penis. He was known for teaching shepherds how to masturbate.

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The word 'escalate' was derived from escalator, not the other way around.

17. Mum in the saying "Mum's the word" is a Middle English word, meaning "Silence"; derived from the "mummer" who does pantomime and just acts without saying anything.

18. The word “Wedding” originates from the Anglo-Saxon word “wedd” which meant wager or gamble.

19. The slang term 'Quid' (for British pound sterling) which appeared in the late 16th century may have derived from the Latin phrase 'quid pro quo' which loosely translates to 'this for that.'

20. The word "carnival" originates with Carna, the Roman "Goddess of Pork and Beans", being later adapted by Christianity and folk legend to mean "meat-goodbye" at the last days before Lent.



Chewbacca's name is derived from собака (sobaka), the Russian word for dog.

22. The name "Ten Gallon Hat" doesn't refer to the volume the hat holds. It is derived from the Spanish word galón (braid), ten indicating the number of braids used as a hat band.

23. The word "Gasoline" does not originate from the word gas. It comes from the word "Cazeline", after John Cassell, who first commercially sold the stuff.

24. The word "bride" originally started as an old English word meaning, "cook."

25. The english word "caravan" is derived from the hindi word "karwan" meaning a "horse drawn carriage"

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