Tuesday, December 04, 2007

False etymologies

At the Poetry Foundation, Samantha Hunt talks to Heather McHugh about Vesalius.

I love this question:

I remember once being tempted to read the etymology of “desire” as “from or of the father.” What are some of your favorite false etymologies?

New Dizzyhead challenge?

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3 Comments:

Blogger selfdivider said...

in godard's 'in praise of love,' a character says that the word "okay" (or O.K.) comes from the civil war era, that when a battalion would report the happy news of no casualty - "0 Killed", they shortened it to "OK." can't be true, right?

9:26 AM  
Blogger Ed said...

That's great! I've heard that it was short for "oll korrect," though why those words should be so misspelled is a mystery...

10:25 AM  
Blogger mattbucher said...

I spent a while trying to figure out the etymology of the word "cocktail." And there doesn't seem to be one correct answer but several people convince they are right for different reasons.
1. a drink strong enough to to cock the tail of a horse.
2. the drink was originally stirred with the tail feather of a rooster
3. leftover drinks were dumped into a container in the shape of a rooster and sold cheaply from a spigot on the tail.
There are literally dozens of these false etymologies for "cocktail".
Also, the word "blizzard" is either onomatopoeia or named after a guy like John Blizzard.

11:21 AM  

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