Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Latin in disguise

Here are five words which you may be surprised to know come from Latin (or then again, perhaps not):

Coriander [Latin: coriandrum]- I always associate coriander with Thai food, but it turns out the Romans grew and ate it as well. Here's a Roman recipe for olive spread you can try if you feel adventurous.

Nullarbor [Latin: nulla arbor]- I assumed for a long time that Nullarbor was an Aboriginal word, until someone pointed out to me that it comes from the Latin for 'no tree', which seems pretty accurate to me.

Circus [Latin circus]- Some friends of mine have just been to see the cirque du soleil. I wonder if they knew that originally a circus simple meant a circle, but came to be associated with the Circus Maximus- a big horse racing track in Rome which could seat more than a hundred thousand spectators.

Cicada [Latin: cicada]- Who would have thought that those ugly insects, which fascinated me as a child, would have a Latin name. Apparently the Romans used the word for grasshoppers too.

Amanda [Latin: amo, amare]- I think I only know two people called Amanda. I'm sure they would both be fascinated to learn that amanda is the gerundive form of the verb amare (to love), and therefore means 'she who must be loved'.


Short Queen said...

I know that nullabor was Latin!

And...you were fascinated by cicadas?

I like scaring people by attatching them to their general person. Especially my brothers...and a few of my friends.

I'm am cruel...but not really.

Curly said...


Ms Klimek used to get worked up about people who thought that was an Aboriginal word.

That and the bad Latin in Harry Potter...

The Amanda thing's quite interesting, though.
Am I right in assuming that the name Melissa comes from the Latin mellis?

jm said...

as far as i can work out melissa comes from the greek word for a honey-bee, which seems to be related to the Latin mel (mellis in the genitive) meaning honey.

zmf said...

Mi mother's middle-name is Amanda.

Actually, for a while, I thought that was mine, but it turns out I was mistaken.

Ally! Attatching cicadas to people is cruel and entertaining.

Sir, you should write an entry about Alex-your-ex-room-mate.

taegh said...

If we're going by initials, fine. Oh, stupid five-barrelled name.

Sir, would you be able to reccomend anything to someone who was a complete and utter imbecile in year eight and didn't take Latin, and then once in year eleven, pined determinedly and resolved to thereupon take it up?

Or shall I give up, fall back on Plan B and continue learning German through gothic European musicals... (ah, die schatten werden länger, immerhin.)

Sarah Shipley said...

ZOMG, I never knew about Nullarbor, I must have been away all the times the Mrs Klimek got riled up about it. Damn. It's pretty obvious now though.

amanda said...

sIR! u never told me that!!! after the whole time that i WAS in ur roll class....