Where do they come from?
The origins of some of these common English words may surprise you!
“Pariah” comes from the Tamil word “parai” (which is a drum), which tended to be associated with the “untouchables”, the fifth and lowest class in the hindu caste system.
“Avocado” comes from the Nahuatl (language of the Aztecs/Mexica) “ahuacatl”, which means testicle.
“Robot” comes from the Czech word “robota”, the amount of work a serf was obligated to perform for his lord.
“Ketchup” comes from the Amoy Chinese “kôe-chiap”, which is a sauce made of pickled fish and spices.
The word “clue” actually comes from a misspelling of the word “clew” (a ball of yarn), which is what Theseus uses to find his way out of the labyrinth.
An “eavesdrop” is the part of the roof that juts out beyond the walls of the building, which is where people would stand to listen to what was going on inside. Hence the term “eavesdropping”.
The word “muscle” comes from the Latin “musculus”, which means “little mouse”.
“Helico pteron” is Greek for “helix wing”, and “ptero daktylos” means “winged fingers”.
The words “candidate” and “candid” both come from the Latin “candidus” meaning “bright white”, which Roman politicians would wear to show the people their trustworthiness.
The word “Casino” comes from Italian, where it can mean either “little house” or “big mess”.
“Checkmate” comes from “Shah-mat”, “Shah” being Persian for “king” and “mat” being Arabic for “is dead”.
The country of “Mexico” is named after “Mexico City”, not the other way around. The pre-Spanish name for the city was “Mexico-Tenochtitlan”, meaning “the prickly pears (cacti) growing among the rocks where the Mexica (Aztecs) live”.
The name for “Egypt” comes from the Greek “Aegyptus”, which is a bad translation of the ancient Egyptian “Hiwtkaptah”, meaning “House of the soul of Ptah (the creator God)”.
The use of the word “spam” as a reference to repeated unwanted messages finds its origin in the Monty Python skit about spam-eating Vikings.
The word “parasite” comes from the ancient Greek “para sitos”, or “eating alongside”. Back then it referred to people eating at someone else´s table.
The word “translation” comes from the Latin “translatio”, literally “to carry over”, but it was used for the process of carrying the bones of a saint from one church to another.
The “Atlantic Ocean” gets its name from the “Atlas Mountains”, in Morocco. They get their name from the Greek mythological figure “Atlas”, who carried the world on his shoulders, and was thought to reside there.
“To bamboozle” comes from the French “embabouiner”, which means “to make a baboon out of someone”.
To “kowtow” literally means “knock the head” in Chinese and is a traditional way of showing worship or submission by putting your forehead to the ground.