Today I thought I would delve into my conversations of the last month or 2 and figure out where these words come from. I read somewhere a while ago that Leonardo da Vinci never stopped asking questions in his lifetime, so instead of holding back, I decided I would be more outspoken with my questions as well. I noticed a lot had to do with roots of words. Pure confusion kind of pushes me too; since I started watching more MMA fights, I’ve heard the word ‘haymaker’ more than I ever have in the entirety of my life before this point. So, in honor of what might be a Haymaking night, here is ‘Etymology Day’!
1. Catacombs– From the Latin catacumbae, originally the word was used for the region of underground tombs between the 2nd and 3rd milestones of the Appian Way (where the bodies of apostles Paul and Peter supposedly were laid), the origins obscure, perhaps once a proper name (can you imagine? “Peter Catacomb?” “Here.”), or dissimilation from cata- “among” + tumbas “the graves,” Extended in 1836 to any subterranean receptacle of the dead (as in Paris).
Haymaker– A hay-maker is a wide swinging punch where you put shoulder power and your weight into it much like using a scythe that is used to cut hay. Haymaker in the sense of “very strong blow with the fist” is from 1912, probably in imitation of the wide swinging stroke of a scythe.
Towhead– in reference to tousled blond hair, is recorded from about 1830. Originated from the Old English words for flax or hemp that was fit to be spun into golden yellow yarn.
What words have always tickled you when you found out where they came from? Is that too nerdy a question to ask? 😛