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Top 10 examples of etymology

Updated on June 26, 2015

1. Why is fountain pen called a "fountain pen"?

Before the invention of fountain pen, the quills were used for writing. They need to dipped in ink every time before making a script. However, the fountain pen came with an inbuilt reservoir which was able to supply continuous ink just like a fountain, thus giving it the name “fountain pen”

2. How did a lollipop get its name?

George Smith coined the term lollipop after his favorite horse “Lolly Pop. Co-incidentally, in northern part of England, lolly means tongue. However it was just a co-incidence and the lollipop was named only after the horse.

3. How did google get its name?

It refers to the term in mathematics “googol” equaling to 10^100. This relates to the millions of search results it gives in less than one second. Larry Page discussed along with Stanford students to keep “googol” as the name for the search engine however he types in “google” in browser to check and this becomes an infamous spelling mistake, now being typed by millions of people around the globe. Google is not just a word now. It has become a verb.

4. Why is it called as deodorant?

The word is more like a compound word “de + odor” A substance which quells or masks the odors is called as deodorant. But in recent times, we pronounce the word so quickly that we are able not even able to grasp the original source of the word. It is interesting to note that most of the names in English are compound words and if we think on the name of a substance for a minute we will be able to know the origin of the particular word.

5.Why is Java called as “java”?

The idea for the open source stuck James Gosling when he was in a coffee shop. Thus he gave the logo of coffee to the language and the name “java”, which is just the American word for coffee. In the logo of java, one could see a cup of coffee and its hot vapors. This simple word now performs the key functions for many computers and mobiles in the world.

6. How did “Blackberry” get its name?

Before the advent of blackberry company, the word seemed to suggest us just a fruit which pricks the hand and the fruit that could be made into some tasty jam. Now, the name blackberry refers to something more technical. The origin for the word is explained. The tiny buttons in the device looked like a collection of seeds and many suggestions for fruits and vegetables came up. However blackberry was accepted as it was believed to be pleasing to ears and the device was black as well, thus giving a name "blackberry".

7. How did the “Audi” car company get its name?

August Horch founded the company Horch & Co In 1899. He manufactured a new car which would run at a maximum speed of 32 kmph but however he had to leave the company due to financial issues. Soon he started a company named “Audi”, which is an exact latin translation for the word “Horch”. He wanted to have his name for the company and that is how “Audi” got its name.

8. How did “Soccer” get its name?

For several centuries, “football” was a very famous sport. However on October 26,1863, in England, several groups combined together and decided to keep common rules for the game and it was named as “Association Football”. The school boys in England keep suffix “er” as nicknames for many words and thus came the name “Rugger” for rugby and the “Association Football” was called as “Assoccer”. As time passed by, it turned into “Soccer”.

9. Why is Chicken 65 called as Chicken “65” ?

It is a famous dish in India and it is called as chicken 65 because it requires 65 days to make the marinade, thus getting the name chicken 65. Another explanation given to the number 65 is that the Indian soldiers had this as simple meal solution in 1965.

10. How did Microsoft get its name?

The word Micro-soft is the Portmanteau of Microcomputers and software. This word was first used by Paul Allen and he showed it to Bill Gates in 1975. The company was registered without hyphen in 1976 with the Secretary of State of New Mexico.

11. How did oxygen get its name?

“Oxygen” is said to form acids. It was discovered by Joseph Priestly in 1772 and at that time it was not an element. Since it had this property, it was called as “oxy genes” (i.e) acid and acid former in Greek language. The two properties of the element were combined and the name "oxygen" came up.

12. Why is “banana” called a “banana”?

The fruit looks like a finger. In Arab language, finger translates to “banan”. It was named in 1750 by Linneus and thus banana got its name. The shapes play an important role in assigning names and here is one example of a fruit named after its shape.

13. Why do we call “earth” as the earth?

All planets except “earth” were named under Greek and Roman Gods and Goddesses. However the etymology behind “earth” is as follows. In German, ground or soil is called as “erde”. In ancient English, it was called as “ertha” and by centuries the word evolved into “earth”

14. How did “Android” get its name?

Android was created by Andrew Rubin. The suffix “id”, “ed” or “od” would more commonly indicate a technical term and thus “android” was chosen as the name incorporating the name of the founder in it. The various versions in android are also systematically being named with edible items in alphabetical order.

15. Why is “butterscotch” called as “butterscotch” ?

The "butterscotch" is said to originate from Scotland, thus having the name scotch behind it. However the more logical explanation is as follows. In the preparation of “butterscotch”, the mixture comprising of sugar and butter is spread over an oil paper and when cool, and they are scotched or scored using a knife. As they are scotched, they are called as butterscotch.

Which etymology among the following interests you the most?

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    • Seshagopalan profile image
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      Seshagopalan Murali 4 years ago from Chennai, Tamil Nadu

      Thank you anagham.

    • anagham profile image

      Anagha V Mahishi 4 years ago from Hubli, karnataka

      That's great info out there! Never knew why things were called the way they are called. Interesting hub..