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22 Surprising & Weird Word Origins (Slideshow)

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19. Lunatic

Lunatic is an interesting one. It’s derived from the late Latin word lūnāticus, which is a combination of lūna “moon” and -atic “of the kind of”—together, they mean something like “moonstruck.” This originated with the belief that insanity is caused by changes of the moon.

20. Idiot

While idiot is an insult these days, its original meaning was quite different, before it went through progressive changes. It comes from the Greek idios, meaning “own, private,” which became idiōtēs, a “private person, layman, ignorant person.” When the word went through Latin and French, it dropped the “private” meaning altogether, to become idiota, or “ignorant person.”

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Molly Allison-Baker

Molly is a nature and travel enthusiast who is passionate about endangered languages, natural history, and women's and LGBT issues. In her free time, she enjoys rock climbing, reading, and hanging out with her three cats.

62 comments

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8:23PM PDT on Jun 15, 2014

Several surprises. Light touch and nice humor.

4:23PM PST on Nov 23, 2013

Very interesting that while much of language changes, much of it stays relatively same through time and travel. Thanks.

5:27PM PDT on Oct 26, 2013

fascinating, but 11 pages????

7:53AM PDT on Sep 22, 2013

I see lot coming from spanish

3:34AM PDT on May 25, 2013

I think avocado might be my favorite in this list.

7:00PM PDT on May 20, 2013

Totally cool...

1:06PM PST on Feb 11, 2013

awesome!!!! my favorite class in college was linguistics --- basically what this is, had I taken it before senior year might have changed my major....

2:24AM PST on Jan 19, 2013

i knew a few of those. the word 'testify' comes from the roman legal system, whereby you-if you were male-would swear to tell the truth in court, or get your testicles cut off. i don't know any more than that, but at least that's how the word has come about for today!

11:32AM PST on Dec 8, 2012

hmm

2:03AM PST on Nov 5, 2012

Interesting, thank you! I always found languages fascinating, it is after all the basis of communication among humans.
What about wife, you did not include the origin of the term?

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