10 Words with Weird Latin Roots
Start writing a post
Politics and Activism

10 Words with Weird Latin Roots

Because etymology and Bobs Burgers GIFs are a match made in heaven.

5350
10 Words with Weird Latin Roots
WB Magazine

The English language, as many people are aware, is a complicated conglomeration of words. With influences from several other languages, there are a lot of English words with interesting and provocative histories. While Latin is by no means the only language that has contributed to these unexpected origins, it has certainly provided its fair share of etymologically amusing words. So in the spirit of the father in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, here are some English words with surprising Latin roots.

1. Passion

Passion comes from the Latin word patior, which means to bear or undergo, but it can also mean to suffer or endure. So presumably, a passion is something that causes you to suffer, or something that you suffer for. Makes you think twice about calling pizza your passion.

2. Arena

Arena comes from the Latin word harena, which means sand. This one takes a little more explanation. In Ancient Rome, the stadiums in which games took place were filled with sand. So the sand itself, the harena, became associated with the place where the gladiators, for instance, would fight each other. While our arenas today may not be filled with sand, at least the association with violence and life or death situations has remained.

3. Lunatic

This one makes a little more sense than the others. Lunatic comes from the latin word lunaticus, which is an adjective used to describe someone associated with or belonging to luna, or the moon. Basically, the Romans thought that the moon caused temporary insanity. So go ahead and add lunatic as a more celestial option in your arsenal of insults.

4. Fabulous

Fabulous comes from the Latin word fabula, which means story. It's easy to see how the word came to be used as it is today: something amazing happens to someone, they want to tell other people about it that amazing thing, they tell the story about that amazing thing that happened, people agree that that amazing thing was worth telling a story about. It's story-worthy. It's fabulous.

5. Testify

Testify and all its "testi-" related words have a funny history. Technically, testify comes from the Latin word testis, which simply means witness. But testis itself is related to the Latin word testiculus, which means exactly what you think it does. This most likely comes from the Ancient Roman practice of swearing by one's testicles, which serve as a representation of one's descendants, and, ostensibly, one's legacy. While there is some debate over the exact involvement of the testicles in this practice, the association remains. You now have permission to giggle the next time you hear someone called to testify.

6. Nice

Nice comes from the Latin word nescire, which means to not know, or to be ignorant. Maybe you've gone all this time with nice saved under your list of safe, generic compliments for people you secretly hate. Well, it turns out that nice actually has a long history of being used to call people stupid. Now you can relish in the sting of your next sarcastic "nice."

7. Muscle

While there are a lot of medical words with Latin roots, muscle's root is cuter than most. It comes from the Latin word musculus, the diminutive of the word mus, which means mouse. So muscle comes from the Latin word for "little mouse." Evidently the Romans thought that certain muscles look like little mice under our skin. It's kinda cute if you don't think about it too much.

8. Seminar

Seminar comes from the Latin word seminarius, which means seed-plot or nursery. This makes sense, given that a seminar is presumably where seeds of knowledge and wisdom are planted and nurtured. But as I'm sure you've guessed, the history doesn't end there. Seminarius comes from the Latin word semen, which literally means seed, but has the same connotations it does today. Do with this information what you will.

9. Sinister

This one is a little sad. Sinister comes quite plainly from the Latin word sinister, which means left. To the Romans, the left hand, the left side, and basically everything to do with the left was bad. This probably stems from the fact that most people are right handed, thus making the left unfavorable for various reasons. Luckily for you lefties out there, the general public seems less hateful towards the left nowadays.

10. Osculate

Unless you have an acute love for math, osculate may not be a word you're particularly familiar with. Basically, when two curves or surfaces touch at just one point, so that they share a tangent at the point of contact, they are osculating. The cute part is that osculate comes from the Latin word osculum, which means kiss. Math + Latin = Romance.

Bonus Greek Root: Barbarian


The word barbarian comes from the Ancient Greek word barbaroi, which refers to anyone who isn't Greek. The cool part is that the Greeks come up with the term barbaroi for foreign people because they couldn't understand their language, and everything the foreigners said sounded like "bar bar." So next time someone calls you a barbarian for eating with your hands, feel free to start muttering "bar bar bar bar" under your breath. It's probably an insult in some language.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Pexels

Let me just say, first and foremost, happy Thanksgiving! This holiday is known as a time for families to get together, to be thankful for the blessings in our lives, and to dig into a lot of very delicious food that you'll be having as leftovers for the next week. However, this family time is certainly not without downsides, as we are forced to confront certain family members on matters that should best be left out of Thanksgiving discussion, and in my case, this happens to be my father, who is the only republican in our family (that I know of).

(FYI: Since I still live with my dad, it's not just Thanksgiving when I'm forced to listen to him talk about politics, as I had gotten a taste of where he stands just from earlier this year alone.)

Keep Reading... Show less
Peter Truong

If you still have not figured out what you want to cook on Thanksgiving, baked macaroni and cheese is something worth considering. It is simple, affordable, and delicious. I have had many different types of baked mac and cheese and most are dry. I do not like a dry mac and cheese, it just does not seem appealing to me. If you like the creamy cheesy essence of mac and cheese, look no further, this recipe is for you.

Ingredients:

Keep Reading... Show less

As a first-year college student, I've been doing a lot of meeting and introducing myself to people, often with the classic format of "name, hometown, major".

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

This Simple 7-Step DIY Face Mask Combines Safety — And Sustainability

Instead of studying like I intended on doing today, I made a face mask for some reason and thought I'd share how I did.

100832

If you were looking for a simple way to make a mask, I am happy to share how I personally make them. I have a pretty small face in general, so I prefer having my homemade ones so they fit better. This is also a great alternative to just throwing away any clothes! Before starting, you will need to make sure you have fabric, thread, a needle, and pins; if you have a sewing machine, you obviously could use that instead of hand sewing it.

Keep Reading... Show less
Student Life

6 Ways To Handle The Stress Of Earning Your Degree From Your Childhood Bedroom

Oh so this was the room where I snuck cookies upstairs past my bedtime and stole R-Rated movies to watch when my parents were asleep and now I'm expected to earn my degree in this very same room?

57529
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

It's definitely not easy, but it's something so many kids are struggling with right now.

Keep Reading... Show less

November is such an underrated month. With all the excitement that comes with Halloween ending and the holiday season around the corner, some people skip over it and go straight to their Christmas playlist. For me though, November is the perfect time to compile a playlist of songs that bring on major nostalgia which I think is perfect for this time of year. If you're looking for something to get you in that thankful spirit before you head into the Christmas spirit or something to play while you enjoy Friendsgiving, here are some go-to songs to add to your November playlist.

Keep Reading... Show less

Taylor Swift is famous for her Easter eggs on social media that hint at what is coming next for her. Over the past few days, fans noticed a change in Swift's hair when she was accepting her win as Apple's songwriter of the year that was reminiscent of the "Red" era. Of course, this has caused widespread speculation that Swift has begun to re-record her masters.

Keep Reading... Show less

While joyful, the holiday season can also be stressful for many and that's A-O.K. Plus, with the added tension that is 2020, this year's holiday season is a lot, to put it simply.

This is your reminder to put yourself first and listen to what you're yearning for. Deep down, you know what you need to thrive and I know that you can get there.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments