Category Archives: Language

How the Word “Spam” Came to Mean “Junk Message”

Star Wars vs Star Trek

Today I found out how the word “spam” came to mean “junk message” or “junk mail”. While some have suggested that this was because SPAM (as in the Hormel meat product) is sometimes satirized as “fake meat”, thus spam messages are “fake messages”, this potential origin, while plausible enough on the surface, turns out to be not correct at all. […]

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“Hip Hip” in “Hip Hip, Hooray” Was Once an Anti-Semitic Phrase

hip hip hooray

Today I Found Out the “Hip Hip” in “Hip Hip, Hooray” was once anti-Semitic. This phrase is thought to have its origins in the middle-age Latin battle-cry “Hieroslyma est perdita’, which means “Jerusalem is fallen” or “Jerusalem is lost”.  This was later shortened by Germanic tribes fighting Jews to “Hep Hep Hu-raj”, meaning loosely “Jerusalem is fallen and we are […]

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Origin of the Name of the Sport Cricket

Cricket

Today I found out the origin of the name of the sport Cricket. The name is originally thought to either have been derived from the Old French “criquet”, meaning “goal, post, or stick” or from the Middle Dutch “kricke”, meaning “stick” or “staff”.  The latter Middle Dutch derivation from “kricke” is generally considered more likely due to the strong medieval trade connections […]

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The Fear of Being Buried Alive is Called ‘Taphophobia’

Dog Buries Cat Alive

Today I found out that the medical term for the irrational fear of being buried alive is called Taphophobia, also occasionally spelled Tephephobia, which means the same thing.    Taphophobia derives from the Greek “taphos” meaning “grave”. Today, this would be considered a somewhat irrational fear.  However, it wasn’t too long ago that this wasn’t irrational at all.  Taphophobia hit […]

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Origin of the Term “Smart Alec”

kramer pimp

Today I found out the origin of the term “Smart Alec”. It was once thought this term was simply generic and that Alec wasn’t actually a real person.  However, relatively recent research by various etymologists such as Professor Gerald Cohen, in his1985 work “Studies of Slang”, has shown, based on considerable newspaper article evidence, that “Alec” was actually very probably […]

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It’s “Just Deserts” Not “Just Desserts”

Today I found out that the idiom used for the notion of someone “getting what’s coming to them”, whether good or bad, is actually “just deserts”, not “just desserts”. The misconception primarily stems from the fact that most people are unfamiliar with the word ‘desert’ (pronounced dizert), which more or less means the same thing as the word ‘deserve’.  Instead, […]

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