This week’s small news in words is here!
1. “Caper” the piccata ingredient and “caper” the film genre aren’t related.
2. “Sin” comes from the Proto-Indo-European for “to be.” That’s intense!
3. “Relish” in the sense of a “condiment which imparts flavor” started as Latin for “loosening/stretching” and then French for “leaving behind” and then “that which is left behind” and then “taste/aftertaste.” Then it came to mean enjoying the taste. And then much later, condiment. I choose to believe the condiment sense references only the “aftertaste” part and not the enjoyment part, because I think relish is gross as hell.
4. Probably Christians know this but “evangelist” comes from Greek for “bringer of good news” (from euangelizesthai “bring good news,” from eu- “good” (see eu-) + angellein “announce,” from angelos “messenger” (see angel). I recently claimed to be feeling evangelical about a brand of dry shampoo, and then wondered if the etymology would back up the depth of my feeling for it, and IT DOES. FYI the brand is Sachajuan and honestly it’s one of those “people are showering me with compliments” situations. Do you need a dry shampoo?
5. Obviously a huge fuck you to Louis CK this week, and also to whoever participated in giving him the much heralded ovation (for a lengthier and similarly disgusted view of this, see Roxane Gay’s op ed). “Ovation” has no “egg” connections and comes right from Latin ovare, “exult, rejoice, triumph.” Don’t do that for him!
6. Um…Samoyed dogs are hiding some deep linguistic and cultural shit in their names. I’m just gonna quote:
Siberian Mongolian people, 1580s, from Russian samoyed (11c.), traditionally literally “self-eaters,” i.e. “cannibals” (the first element cognate with same, the second with eat), but this might be Russian folk etymology of a native name:
The common Russian etymology of the name Samoyed, meaning “self-eater,” deepened the Russians’ already exotic image of far-northerners. The most probable linguistic origin of Samoyed, however, is from the Saami — saam-edne, “land of the people” [Andrei V. Golovnev and Gail Osherenko, “Siberian Survival: The Nenets and Their Story,” Cornell University, 1999]
Which would make the name a variant of Suomi “Finn.” The native name is Nenets. As the name of a type of dog (once used as a working dog in the Arctic) it is attested from 1889.
Please take all this and make informed word choices.