Updated for April 2017

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Where They Came From
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Forgotten/Lost Words


* COACH ~ From the Hungarian word, 'kocsi', a horse-drawn wagon with springs above the axles. Named after the village of Kocs in which this type of vehicle was invented. The verb 'to coach' is also derived from this root
* PARASITE ~ literally means "eating beside", first used in English 1539, the word parasite comes from the Medieval French parasite, from the Latin parasitus, the latinisation of the Greek parasitos, "one who eats at the table of another". In its original sense, it was not strictly pejorative in nature; being a parasitos was an accepted lifestyle, whereby a person could live off the hospitality of others, and in return provide "flattery, simple services, and a willingness to endure humiliation"

MARATHON ~ from the Greece town named Marathon, the scene of a victory over the Persians in 490 BC; the modern race is based on the tradition that a messenger ran from Marathon to Athens (22 miles) with the news of the Greek victory. The original account by Herodotus told of the messenger Pheidippides running 150 miles from Athens to Sparta before the battle, seeking help at Marathon.
* BUMPH / BUMF ~ actually means toilet paper; from the late 19th century, it is an abbreviation of the slang word bum-fodder.
* GLUTTONY ~ derived from the Latin "gluttire" meaning to gulp down or to swallow, it went on to mean over-indulgence and over-consumption of food, drink, or wealth items to the point of extravagance or waste. In some religions gluttony is a deadly sin and 590AD Pope Saint Gregory I/St. Gregory the Great was even stricter, he declared eating before the time of meals in order to satisfy the palate a sin of gluttony!
* AMBIDEXTROUS ~ from the Latin roots ambi- meaning "both", and dexter- meaning "right". Thus, "ambidextrous" is literally "both right" and now meaning able to use the right and left hands equally well. The term ambidexter in English was originally used in a legal sense of jurors who accepted bribes from both parties for their verdict.
* HALLOWEEN ~ The word Halloween or Hallowe'en dates to about 1745 and is of Christian origin. The word "Hallowe'en" means "hallowed evening" or "holy evening". It comes from a Scottish term for All Hallows' Eve (the evening before All Hallows' Day). In Scots, the word "eve" is even, and this is contracted to e'en or een. Over time, (All) Hallow(s) E(v)en evolved into Hallowe'en. Although the phrase "All Hallows'" is found in Old English (ealra halgena mæssedæg, all saints mass-day), "All Hallows' Eve" is itself not seen until 1556.
COCK AND BULL STORIES ~ the town of Stony Stratford, which name derived from 'the stony ford on the Roman road', is located on the old Roman road of Watling Street, now the A5, was a main coaching stop. In the height of the coaching era - the 18th and early 19th centuries it was an important stopping-off point for mail and passenger coaches travelling between London and the North of England. The Cock and The Bull were the two main coaching inns in the town and the banter and rivalry between groups of travellers is said to have resulted in exaggerated and fanciful stories, which became known as 'cock and bull stories'. The two hostelries still exist.
~ from the Old English word haligdæg from.. halig "holy" + dæg "day". The word originally referred only to special religious days. In modern use, it means any special day of rest or relaxation, as opposed to normal days away from work or school.
* WINDOW ~ from the Old Norse 'vindauga', from 'vindr – wind' and 'auga – eye', i.e., wind eye. In Norwegian Nynorsk the Old Norse form has survived to this day, in Swedish the word vindöga remains as a term for a hole through the roof of a hut.
* ABROAD ~ mid-13c., when it meant "widely apart" from Old English 'on brede'. By the late 14c it had become to mean "out of doors, away from home", which by mid-15c had led to the main modern sense of "out of one's country, overseas"
* BRIDE ~ The word comes from the Proto-Germanic verb root, "bru-", meaning 'to cook, brew, or make a broth,' which was the role of the daughter-in-law in primitive families.
* VILLAGE ~ from Latin villaticum "farmstead with outbuildings", noun use of neuter singular of villaticus "having to do with a farmstead or villa," from the latin villa "country house".
* HAZARD ~ comes from the Arabic "al zahr" which means, the dice. The term came to be associated with dice during the Crusades and took on a negative connotation because games of dice were associated with gambling.
~ If you get something "to boot" it means you get it extra, or like the expression "moreover, on top of that". However it has nothing to do with boots you wear on your feet. It is a corruption of from the Old English bote /bot which meant help, relief, advantage; atonement, literally 'a making better, from Proto-Germanic boto, which is where the word better comes from

* ALMANAC ~ Diary... derives from a Greek word
"almenichiaká" meaning calendar, however that word appears only once in antiquity, by Eusebius who quotes Porphyry as to the Coptic Egyptian use of astrological charts. Also al-manakh, was an Arabic word, meaning the climate, this refers to the natural change in weather and the Saxon term 'al-mon-aght' which means 'all moon heed', was the record of new and full moons. The earliest almanacs as we know them were calendars that included agricultural, astronomical, and meteorological data.
* NICE ~
Lovely, likable, agreeable... in middle English it meant 'stupid' from Old French from the Latin word nescius ='ignorant, from nescire = 'not know', which gave rise to 'fastidious, and scrupulous', this led to 'fine, subtle' (which is regarded by some as the ‘correct’ sense now), and then went on to the current senses, eg. likable, agreeable, lovey.

* KIP ~ Sleep or nap, originally meant "Brothel", as refered to in the book The Vicar of Wakefield: "....... tattering a kip......" meaning "wrecking a brothel". The word eventually came to be used for lodging-houses and finally to refer to the act of sleeping itself; also sailors called their hammocks, kips.
POLTERGEIST ~ The word came from the German language words Poltern meaning "to make sound" and "to rumble", and Geist meaning "ghost" and "spirit"; the term itself translates as "noisy ghost", "rumble-ghost" or a "loud spirit"
ARTHRITIS ~ is from the Greek words arthro meaning joint + itis, meaning inflammation.
* MUSIC ~ mid-13c., musike, from Old French musique, which derives from ancient Greece "mousa" meaning muse, and mousike "art of the Muses"
* GYMNASIUM ~ The word gymnasium comes from the Greek word gymnazein which means to exercise naked. Etymology: Latin, exercise ground, school, from Greek gymnasion, from gymnazein to exercise naked, from gymnos naked
Ever wondered why a bakers dozen is thirteen ... this old saying comes from the days when bakers were severely punished for baking underweight loaves. Many bakers would add a loaf to a batch of a dozen to be above suspicion.
* HERO ~ Late 14c., "man of superhuman strength or physical courage," from Latin heros "hero" from Ancient Greek heros "demi-god", originally a "defender or protector". The meaning as a "man who exhibits great bravery" in any course of action is from 1660s; and used as a "chief male character in a play, story, etc" was first used 1690s, and the first record of hero-worship is from 1774.
* RICKSHAW ~ originates from the Japanese word jinrikisha ... jin = human, riki = power or force, sha = vehicle, which literally means "human-powered vehicle
* SOFA ~ is from Turkish derived from the Arabic word suffa for "wool", originating in the Aramaic word sippa for "mat", where as SETTEE ~ is from the Old English word, "setl", which was used to describe long benches with high backs and arms, but is now generally used to describe upholstered seating
* A PIG'S EAR ~ The term is now used to mean something messy and useless; its origin comes from the phrase "You can't make a silk purse from a sow's ear", which is a derivative of a 16th century phrase "None can make goodly silke of a gotes fleece"
* HOOTENANNY ~ Scottish word meaning "celebration" and/or "party", closely associated with Hogmanay—the Scots New Year celebration which, traditionally, is the biggest celebration on the Scottish calendar. A "Hoot" is when a person or persons, does something funny or does something out of the ordinary, the results may be viewed as being anything from wierd to hilarious.
* DARK HORSE ~ The term began as horse racing parlance for a race horse that is not known to gamblers and thus is difficult to place betting odds on. The earliest-known mention of the concept is in Benjamin Disraeli's novel, The Young Duke, published in 1831

* AWKWARD ~ a combination of Anglo-Saxon, Latin, and Germanic dialects, the words merged between the 9th & 13th centuries. Awk is an obsolete word meaning “turned the wrong way,” and originally awkward just meant “in an awk direction,” just as forward means to move to the front and backward means to move to the rear
* KNOCK ON WOOD / TOUCH WOOD ~ touching, tapping, or knocking on wood, or merely stating the same, in order to avoid "tempting fate" after making a favourable observation, a boast, or declaration concerning an unfavorable situation beyond your control. The origin of is in folklore, wherein tree sprites aka dryads were thought to live in trees, and can be invoked for protection and favours
* NUCLEUS ~ from the Latin word nucu(la) meaning little nut, the seed inside a fruit
HAIR OF THE DOG ~ The expression originally referred to a method of treatment of a rabid dog bite, it was a belief that a few hairs of the dog that bit you, when applied to the wound, will prevent the evil consequences.
* ANGUILLIFORM ~ resembling an eel; eel like movements. Origin is late 17th century: from Latin anguilla meaning 'eel' + iform
* BITTER END ~ Anchor cables were wrapped around posts called bitts, and therefore the last piece of cable was called the bitter end. So if f you let out the cable to the bitter end there was nothing else you could do, you had reached the end of your resources
is adapted from the French language hélicoptère, first coined by Gustave Ponton d'Amécourt in 1861, which originates from the Greek helix/helik - "twisted, spiral" and the Greek pteron - "wing"... which can also be seen in pterodactyl, an extinct flying reptile, Greek pteron "wing" + daktylos "finger".
* THE BEE'S KNEES ~ first recorded in the 18th century, when it was used to mean 'something very small and insignificant'. Its current meaning of 'an outstanding person or thing' dates from the 1920s, when a whole collection of American slang expressions were coined.
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.
* KETCHUP ~ In the 1690s the Chinese invented "ke-tsiap"... a concoction of pickled fish and spices (but no tomatoes). By the early 1700s its popularity had spread to Malaysia, where British explorers first encountered it. By 1740 the sauce, called "ketchup" in the western world, was an English staple and it was popular in the American colonies. Tomato ketchup was invented until the 1790s, when New England colonists first mixed tomatoes into the sauce. (Before this time tomatoes were thought to be poisonous, being a relative of the deadly nightshade)
ESCAPE ~ In Latin, escape means "out of cape". The ancient Romans would often avoid capture by throwing off their capes when fleeing.
* ASSASSIN ~ From the old Arabic word "hashshshin", which meant, "someone who is addicted to hash" [marijuana]. Originally refered to a group of warriors who would smoke up before battle. The hashshshins or assassins were a sect of warriors who controlled a number of fortified towns in Persia for about 200 years.
* CAMOUFLAGE ~ The original meaning of camouflage was smoke blown into the eyes, blinding the person to what was happening around them. From the French camouflet, meaning puff of smoke; and camoufler, to disguise
* QUELL ~ from the Old English cwellan "to kill, murder, execute", Old Saxon quellian "to torture, kill", Old Norse kvelja "to torment", Middle Dutch quelen "to vex, tease, torment;" Old High German quellan "to suffer pain," German quälen "to torment, torture". The milder sense of "suppress, extinguish" was developed by c.1300
* LIBERTY ~ from the Latin words "Liber," "Libera," and "Liberum" -- with a Long I -- came from the root meaning, "to pour." From this, we get the word "Liberty" (pronounced with a short I), from the freedom we feel when we get drunk
* ADDICT ~ Slaves given to the ancient 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.
* KISS ~ The word came from Old English cyssan : “to kiss”, in turn from coss : “a kiss”. Among the first known written descriptions of mouth-to-mouth kissing are included in the epic poem, Mahabharata, written 3,000 years ago in ancient India.
* NARK ~ Romany "nak" meaning nose .... around 1860 we started to use the word to discribe a person who stuck his nose into peoples business to inform on them, such as a copper's nark
* ORCHID ~ Greek: Orkhis meaning testicle .... The plant is so named because of the similarity of the shape between its tubers and a testicle. There are more than 22,000 species of orchids.

* SLEAZY ~ Latvian: Selesian from Silesia .... The large area in central Europe known as Silesia was once noted for fine quatily fabrics that were often shipped out of the Baltic ports of Latvia. When poor quality imitations began arriving the Latvians coined the derogatory term, sleazy
* PENGUIN ~ originally used for the now extinct, great auk of Newfoundland, but shifted to the Antarctic bird, found by Drake in Magellan's Straits in 1578 is from 1580s. Of unknown origin, though often asserted to be from Welsh.. pen "head" + gwyn "white". The great auk had a large white patch between its bill and eye.
* XMAS ~ sometimes pronounced eksmas, but it, and variants such as Xtemass, originated as handwriting abbreviations for the typical pronunciation krismas. The "-mas" part is from the Latin-derived Old English word for Mass, while the "X" comes from the Greek letter Chi, which is the first letter of the Greek word Xpiotoc, translated as "Christ". There is a common misconception that the word Xmas stems from a secular attempt to remove the religious tradition from Christmas by taking the "Christ" out of "Christmas". Early use of "Xmas" includes Bernard Ward's History of St. Edmund's college, Old Hall, originally published circa 1755. An earlier version, "X'temmas", dates to 1551.Around 1100 the term was written as "Xpes mæsse" in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
* BANK ~ latin: banco... meaning a bench. Visitors to ancient Rome were only allowed to use the Roman currency and had to visit money changers who set up benches where they transacted their business
* LIBRARY ~ latin: liber -- with a long I -- meaning, "to peel"; the thin coating found on the inner bark of the Egyptain papyrus marsh plant, peeled off was used by the ancient Greeks and Romans for making paper, but the word paper comes from the latin.. papyros, the marsh plant.

* JACKPUDDING ~ a noun meaning a “merry-andrew” or “a zany” — in other words, a joker who acts the fool to make other people laugh. Originally a buffoon/jester who performed pudding tricks, such as swallowing a certain number of yards of black-pudding. Countries name its stage buffoon from its favourite viands: The Dutchman calls him Pickel-herringë; the Germans, Hans Wurst (John Sausage); the Frenchman, Jean Potage; the Italian, Macaroni; and the English, Jack Pudding.
* FLUMPENCE ~ means an insulting small tip or payment.

DUFFIFIE ~ means to lay a bottle on its side-after drinking its contents, so as to collect the few remaining drops, so every last drop can then be dribbled into a glass. (The Simpsons come to mind!!!)
* GELICIDE ~ from the 17th century meaning "a frost"
means to caress sexually, to fondle, to pet, to canoodle or to indulge in foreplay
* AMBILEVOUS ~ first attested in English in 1646 from Latin ambi - “both” + laevus - “left” ... meaning having equally bad ability in both hands; clumsy, awkward, butterfingered (also the opposite to ambidextrous)
* LARDLET ~ a small piece of bacon to put in a recipe, a sprinkle of bacon used to enrich the flavor of a dish.
SPATCHCOCK ~ A spatchcock is a historical old Irish word for a culled immature male chicken, but now it denotes a preparation technique.
* WHISTERPOOP aka WHISTERCLISTER ~ a noun meaning a quick smart blow or smack especially to the ear or side of the head, a backhand slap.
* PLEBICOLAR ~ an adjective used from 1626 -1820 meaning appealing to the common people
OVERMORROW ~ is the correct word for "The day after tomorrow"
* SKYBOSH ~ This Old English noun means "tomfoolery or joking"
* HARRY ~ This Old English verb means "to make war, lay waste, ravage, plunder"
Old English expression meant "fleeting weeks," and refers to what we today call a honeymoon. Flitterwochen is, obviously, a much better word.
* MAFFICK ~ a verb, meaning to celebrate with boisterous rejoicing and hilarious behavior
* UGLYOGRAPHY ~ Bad handwriting; poor spelling.

* JARGOGLE ~ A 17th century word meaning to confuse things, jumble or mix things up.
A 17th century term for a surgeon who specialized in curing pox or the clap.
* CATCHPOLL ~ an official debt collector, derives from Latin and French and literally means chicken catcher.
* HONEYFUGGLE ~ To hoodwink, swindle, dupe, wheedle, cheat or trick, enticed by flattery and sweet-talk.
CRAPULENCE ~ sickness caused by excessive eating or drinking, from crapulent, sick from gluttony, from Late Latin crapulentus meaning very drunk, which is from Latin crapula: intoxication, from the Greek kraipale.
* GUTTLE ~ to eat / drink or both, greedily and noisily or gluttonously
* PLUVIOPHILE ~ a lover of rain; someone who finds joy and peace of mind during rainy days
* GROKE ~ to groke, is to gaze at somebody while they are eating in the hope that they will give you some of their food. I am sure most dog owners, if they new this word, would use it a lot!!

SNOLLYGOSTER ~ A shrewd, unprincipled person, especially a politician
* QUAT ~ a common noun meaning a spot, pimple, or sty, but in Scotland, it is a verb meaning to relinquish, to forsake, or to repay.
* BANTLING ~ a very young child, brat, or whelp ... a modification of the German word, bänkling meaning bastard, first used in 1593.
* MISOLOGY ~ a hatred of argument, reasoning or enlightenment :~ from the Greek misologia, from miso- dislike, hatred + -logia, from logos word, reason
* GROG-BLOSSOM ~ A word from the 18th century for the dilation of blood vessels, caused by long-term heavy drinking, in an alcoholic's nose
* GROWLERY ~ a place to retreat to, alone, when ill-humoured, or a private den
* MASCARON ~ A grotesque face on a door-knocker, derived from the Arabic maskharah, a jester or person in masquerade
LICHGATE OR LYCHGATE ~ a covered gateway at the entrance to a churchyard. Lych was the Saxon word for corpse. The lych gate was a resting place for a body before a funeral.
* FOPPOTEE ~ a simpleton
CURMUDGEON ~ a person (especially an old man) who is easily annoyed or angered and who often complains, in other words, a grumpy old man.
* DEGUST ~ to taste food or drink carefully, so as to fully appreciate it
* PILLALOO ~ of Irish origin; originally began as a hunting cry, now a chorus or cry of sorrow or distress
MULLOCK ~ Rubbish, nonsense, or waste matter
* BOMBASTER ~ a person who stuffs or pads things ~ BOMBAST ~ the material used for padding... from Old French bombace, from Medieval Latin bombax: cotton
* KROBYLOS ~ a hair style for men or women , like a bun, when hair is rolled up into a kind of knot on the crown of the head and held with clasps ~ from ancient Grecian times

OSSIFRAGRANT ~ an adjective meaning bone-breaking used around 1656
* KEXY ~ an adjective meaning dry, brittle, or withered used around 1608 to 1884.
* GNATHONIZE ~ To Flatter and was used between 1619 -1727.
An old, outdated liquid measurement for beer starting in Charles II reign.
To be slightly intoxicated, to be worse for liquor; to be a little tipsy.
* HUZZAH ~ Hooray... an expression or shout of acclaim, often used interjectionally to express joy or approbation. First recorded in 1573 and according to a few of writers in the 17th and 18th centuries, it was originally a sailor's cheer or salute. Maybe from Old French, huzzer, “to shout aloud".
HORNSWOGGLE ~ hoodwink, bamboozle, deceive... etc. Hornswoggled belongs to a group of "fancified" words that were particularly popular in the American West in the 19th century. Hornswoggle is one of the earliest, first appearing around 1829. It is possible that these words were invented to poke fun at the more "sophisticated" East.
* REECHY ~ smoky, dirty, begrimed with dirt
(origin: 15th century)
* FUNAMBULIST ~ an acrobat who performs on a tightrope or slack rope, a tightrope walker (from Latin funambulus - rope dancer, from funis - rope + ambulare - to walk)
* GALLIMAUFRY ~ A medley or confused jumble of anything, eg: gallimaufry of prophecies, 1668; but especially a dish made of leftovers, (from Old French galimafrée - ragout, hash)

some sources from
Codswallop, Crumpet and Caper
Oxford English Dictionary

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