The 'ch' in chemist and church is inexplicable, as are many other words. But the English language has words whose origins are outright bizarre. They probably never realized, but the Anglo Saxons (believed to be the first speakers of Old English) inadvertently invented a language which has words whose origins will make you read about them twice. These words primarily caught our attention based on etymology, read on to know why.

1. Sarcasm

If you have ever been torn apart by sarcastic comments, then you have experienced the origin of the word. It can be traced back to the Greek word 'sarkazein' which means 'to tear flesh'.

2. Girl

The true origins of the word remains uncertain, but it's said to be related to 'gor' a Low German word that means 'child'.The early usage of the word was for kids of both sexes.

3. Hazard

The etymology of this word lies with the Arabic word 'al zahr' which means dice. During the Crusades, it took on a negative connotation as games with dice were associated with gambling.

4. Disaster

'Dis' means bad and 'aster' means star. The word comes from the Greeks who blamed unfavourable conditions on the stars and planetary movements.

5. Lemur

Their nocturnal activities were the influence behind the origin of the name of this animal. In Latin, it means 'spirit of the dead'.

6. Loophole

Also known as murder holes, these were slits in a castle from where soldiers shot their arrows.

7. Nice

This word has its origins in Latin, where it meant 'ignorant'. Boy, does etymology give you life lessons!

8. Muscle

It's funny how paradoxical origins can be. This word's origin lies with the Latin language where it meant 'little mouse'. Apparently, muscles looked like mice under the skin to people back then.

9. Pamphlet

This word comes from a love poem called 'Pamphilus' that was supposedly passed from one person to another.

10. Lukewarm

It is a Middle English word that's redundant as 'luke' meant warm back then. So the word lukewarm as per the origins would mean 'warm warm'.

11. Mortgage

The Old French word 'mort' means dead and 'gage' means pledge. They knew even back then what loans can do to you.

12. Sycophant

This word has a whole story to it. In ancient Greek it meant 'fig revealer'. 'Suko' means figs and 'phantes' stands for people who reveal something. Back in the day, exporting figs was a criminal offence and people who told on the smugglers were called sycophants.

13. Smart Aleck

Aleck Hoag was a pimp in New York in 1840's. His wife would seduce men into bed, and as they slept, Hoag would loot them of their money.

14. Whiskey

The word has Gaelic origins. It comes from the words 'uisge beatha' which literally translated means 'water of life'.


15. Berserk

Berserkers were Norse warriors who fought with a passion that bordered on madness. Hence the word.

16. Avocado

This comes from the Aztec language called Nahuatl. The word originated from the word 'Ahuacatl' which means testicle. So basically, avocado means testicle.


Words that mean something so different in their origins, take on a whole new meaning in English. Seems it's not just the pronunciation we need to be confused about!