14 Words with Crazy Origins that You Would Never Have Guessed

English has been around since the Middle Ages and it is an incredibly popular language, but it has a habit of picking up words and phrases from various other languages around the world. This leads to a plethora of crazy origins for some words. Some of the words will raise an eyebrow regarding their origin.

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Quiz

This word is immensely attractive in the eyes of scholars or academicians, but it has its origins in Dublin. As part of a bet, a theatre owner from Dublin had to find a new English word every day. On one such a day, he came up with the word ‘quiz’ and it was seen as a test by people in Dublin. It soon became incorporated into the language.

Dunce

This derogatory word came into existence during the 13th century. It was introduced as a means to honor Scotus, who was a popular theologian and philosopher, and his followers. However, it soon became an expression of academic ineptitude because of the Renaissance discrediting the ideas of Duns. Soon, this word became an expression for outdated ideas.

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Nightmare

Initially, this word was used to denote a female horse but it became associated with the ‘mare’ part due to German influences. In German, mare is used to refer to an evil spirit that can lead to bad dreams. More than just causing bad sleep, German folklore also believed that mare was responsible for riding throughout the night and causing exhaustion in the following day. This quickly transformed itself into the words nightmare in English.

Berserk

This word is used to denote a frenzied nature and they are symbolic of the former Norse warriors. Hence, the widespread consensus is that the ‘berserk’ word is associated with Norse words like ‘bjorn’ and ‘serkr’. They would translate into ‘bear’ and ‘coat’ respectively. It is also likely that the world could come from ‘berr,’ which is used to refer a soldier without armor.

Sandwich

A favourite lunchtime snack, sandwich got its name from John Montagu, who was the fourth goal of the sandwich. The idea of sandwiching beef between bread was thrown upon by this aristocrat during the 18th century. This quickly became his favorite meal –, especially while playing cards. Soon, the idea caught up on Montagu’s friends and it was eventually named after his title. Since it is a convenience food, it has been able to catch up on in different parts of the globe.

Quarantine

This word has its origins to the 14th century when the plague wiped out a huge part of Europe. A venetian dialect – “quaranta giorni," which roughly meant 40 days – was responsible for identifying the isolation enforced in Europe during the league.

Malaria

Malaria is believed to have originated in Rome, as medieval words in this region of Italy were used to denote ‘bad air’. They came up from the words ‘mal’ and ‘aria’ in this part of the country.

Groggy

This is used to denote a situation where a person is lethargic and sluggish. It has its roots in the 18th century when a sailor named Admiral Vernon was used to be known as the ‘Old Grog’ because of his clock. His decision to punish his sailors with diluted rum soon led to its current name of groggy.

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Hazard

An Arabic word, ‘Al-Zahr,’ is used to denote the dice in some gambling games. Since there was a danger of losing money from gambling, this word became synonymous while denoting a dangerous element.

Clue

Greek mythology is responsible for throwing ‘clue’ into modern English. It is derived from ‘clew’ which is a yarn ball. This ball was given to Theseus in order to help in getting out of Minotaur’s labyrinth.

Genuine

The Latin word genuinus has given rise to genius. Unsurprisingly, this is a combination of two words – genu and knee. The Roman custom is all about placing the newborn child on the knee of a father in order to acknowledge the child’s paternity.

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Ketchup

China is believed to have been a source of ketchup as early as in the 17th century. It started rising popularity around the world during the 18th century when Malaysia and Singapore had the first taste. Back then, it was known as the ‘kecap’ as it was a different way of pronouncing ‘kay-chap’.

Ostracise

This is a form of democracy that came about back in ancient Greece. Citizens were able to exercise their rights by working on several aspects of the government. Most citizens were in favour of the elections, which even allowed banishing of a certain individual. The ‘ostrakon’ came about and has led to ostracise.

Palace

This is once again an English word that has come about in Italy. The Seven Hills is a famous destination in Rome where the Emperor lived on a humongous home. The location of this home was on Palatine and it was used to refer the home rather than the hill. The word ‘palais’ in French is only used to denote a sprawling home and the fusion of these two ideas has led to ‘palace’ being used to refer the palatial homes, which are almost like palaces.

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