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Origin of Words

Addict 
Slaves given to Roman soldiers to reward them for performance in battle were known as addicts. Eventually, a person who was a slave to anything became known as an addict.

Alarm 
From the Italian, "All'arme" -- "To arms!" 

Alcohol 
This word comes from the Arabic al-kuhl, which originally meant a very fine powder of antimony used as eye makeup. It conveyed the idea of something very fine and subtle, and the Arab alchemists therefore gave the name of al-kuhl to any impalpable powder obtained by sublimation (the direct transformation of a solid into vapor, or the reverse process), and thus to all compounds obtained through the distillation process.

America
Most people know that America is named after Amerigo Vespucci.

Assassin 
From the old Arabic word "hashshshin," which meant, "someone who is addicted to hash," that is, marijuana. Originally refered to a group of warriors who would smoke up before battle.

Bikini
D
id you know that the scanty, two-piece swimsuit is named for a nuclear weapons test?

Biscuit 
From the mediaeval French 'Bis + cuit' meaning 'cooked twice'

Blue/blues
The adjective blue has been associated with despondency and sadness since the 16th century.

Blue moon
The original sense of blue moon is that of an absurd event that can never occur. The moon is never really blue and once in a blue moon is akin to when pigs fly. (Well actually, when a lot of dust is kicked up into the atmosphere, the moon can appear blue. The eruption of Krakatoa in 1883 caused the moon to turn blue, as did late Indian monsoons in 1927 and Canadian forest fires in 1951.)

Caesar
The term comes from the name of Julius Caesar, who according to legend was delivered by this method.

Cancer
Both the disease and the astronomical constellation, derive from the Latin cancer or cancrum, meaning crab. The astrological sign, of course, is said to resemble a crab and the disease was so named by the ancient Greek physician Galen (129-200 A.D.) who noted the similarity between a certain type of tumor with a crab as well—the swollen veins around the tumor resembling the legs of a crab.

Carnival 
Literal meaning: "Flesh, farewell." The "val" ending does not derive from Latin "vale". Modern Italian "carnevale" comes from Old Italian "carnelevare"; levare = raise, put away, remove. Carnival originally refered to the traditional, pre-Lenten feast (like Mardi Gras) after which people usually fasted.

Charlatan 
From the Spanish "charlar," to chat.

Cravate (French); Krawatte (German); Corbata (Spanish) Tie
The term "Krawatte" (German), "cravate" (French) and "corbata" (Spanish), which all mean a man's "tie", first originated in the Napoleonic Wars when French troops were entering the territory of Crotia, which, at that time, was part of the Holy Roman Empire. Apparently the Croatians were so estatic to be rid of the German Habsburg yoke that they showered the triumphant French troops with flowers and ran up to them and tucked squares of red cloth in the collars of their uniforms as a gesture of goodwill. From them on the term "Croat" or a variation thereof seems to have stuck in may parts of Continental Europe.

Genuine 
Originally meant "placed on the knees." In Ancient Rome, a father legally claimed his newborn child by sitting in front of his family and placing his child on his knee.

Hazard 
This term came from the Arabic "al zahr," which means "the dice" and was used by Western Europeans to call each of the various games played with dice that they learned while in the Holy Land during the Crusades. The term eventually took on the connotation of danger because, from very early on, dice games were associated with gambling and with con artists using corrupted dice.

Heresy 
Greek for "Choice."

Husband 
Comes from the Old German words hus and bunda, which mean "house" and "owner," respectively. The word originally had nothing to do with marital status, except for the fact that home ownership made husbands extremely desirable marriage partners.

Malaria 
From the medieval Italian "mal'" (bad) and "aria" (air), describing the miasma from the swamps around Rome in the summer months, believed to be the cause of fevers.

Noon 
Derived from the Latin word for ninth. The word "noon" originally meant the ninth hour after sunrise, or 3:00 p.m.--generally the hottest part of the day and the time when most people in the Roman Empire would break for lunch.

Opportunity 
From the Latin Ob-, meaning "towards," and portu(m), meaning "port."

Parlement (French) Parliament 
From the French, "Parler," meaning, "to speak." Thus, we can not complain when our politicians do little other than "speak."

Quarantine
n. Any forced stoppage of travel or communication on account of malignant, contagious disease, on land or by sea.
From the French quarante (=forty). Adding the suffix –aine to French numbers gives a degree of roughness to the figure (like –ish in English), so quarantaine means about forty. Originally when a ship arriving in port was suspected of being infected with a malignant, contagious disease, its cargo and crew were obliged to forego all contact with the shore for a period of around forty days. This term came to be known as period of quarantine.


Salary
Salt -
In the early days of Rome its soldiers were given a handful of salt each day. The salt ration was subsequently replaced by a sum of money allowing each man to buy his own, and relieving the commisariat of the trouble of transporting it. The money received was referred to as their "salt money" (salarium in Latin). Eventually, the term would make its way into medieval France, where a soldier's payment was known as his solde (which is still in use today as the term for a soldier's or sailor's pay), and it was in paid for with a special coin called a sol. By extension, the word also came to refer not only to a soldier's wage, but also to the soldier himself, evidenced by the medieval French term soldat, which itself came from the Old French soudier. For its part, the English word "soldier" comes from the Middle English souder, which also derived from soudier [Footnote: Contrary to popular belief, salt--necessary as it was and unlike other spices--was never very expensive. It only became expensive towards the end of the twelfth century A.D., when it was used as a means of taxation and people often went without it, as a result--a fact not unconnected with the famines and deficiencies that afflicted so many generations of Europeans at the time).].

Sandwich
This is one of the more famous word origin stories, appearing in many elementary school textbooks. The dish, consisting of two slices of bread filled with meat or some other savoury, is named after John Montagu, the fourth Earl of Sandwich (1718-92). Montagu was a great gambler and spent many long hours at the gaming tables. During these lengthy sessions he was fond of eating such a bread-meat concoction because he could continue gambling while he did so. His name became associated with the dish in the 1760s.

Senator 
From the Latin "senex," meaning "old"; thus related to "senile."

Sinister 
From the Latin "sinister" for "left." Hence, left is evil.

Tennis 
"Tennis," a sport which first developed in France, was originally "tenez" (pronounced tuh-nay) which is the French verb "tenir" conjugated at the second person of the plural as a polite imperative verb (translated in this case by something like "there you go"). They were saying "tenez" when they hit the ball so as to say :"there, try to get this one". But tennis lost popularity in France and gained popularity in England at the same time. So, English people were still using the word "tenez" each time they hit the ball, but saying it with the English accent which sounded more like tennis, and which eventually took this new spelling. Then the sport gained popularity world wide and got picked up by many languages, including French.

Trivia 
The derivation of the word trivia comes from the Latin for "crossroads": "tri-" + "via", which means three streets. This is because in ancient times, at an intersection of three streeets in Rome (or some other Italian place), they would have a type of kiosk where ancillary information was listed. You might be interested in it, you might not, hence they were bits of "trivia."

Vampire
The English term was derived (possibly via French vampire or from the German Vampir] from the early 18th century Serbian вампир/vampir

Villain 
From "Villaneus," meaning, "inhabitant of a villa," i.e., a "peasant."

Vinegar 
Comes from the Latin vin aigre, meaning "sour wine."

Virginia
Virginia is named for Queen Elizabeth I, the “Virgin Queen.” (Which is almost certainly not an accurate appellation. She never married, but it’s generally accepted that she had many lovers.) 

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