Common Words With Surprising Origins

Common Words With Surprising Origins

Most people use a bevy of words every day, whether they’re signing, speaking, texting, or communicating in some other way. Although you might use those words and know what they mean, do you know where they all came from? Keep reading to discover the stories behind three common words with surprising origins.


Whiskey has definitely earned a notable reputation for quite a few reasons, such as the strong smell and iconic burn you’ll find in each glass. That said, even if you’ve had more than your fair share of this beverage, you likely aren’t aware of where the word “whiskey” came from. This iconic liquor’s name comes from a Gaelic phrase—uisge beatha. No, that’s not Gaelic for “whiskey breath.” However, it is Gaelic for “water of life.” Since whiskey is often associated with heat, it’s certainly understandable if water is the last word you thought would be a part of this drink’s origins, and yet, here we find ourselves.


Avocados have been in cultivation for thousands of years, but their popularity has significantly increased in recent decades. You can use this tasty food as an ingredient for various dishes, but its name has only one origin, and it’s one for the books. “Avocado” comes from the Spanish word “aguacate,” which itself comes from the Aztec term “ahuacatl.”

You’re probably assuming this Aztec word translates to “green fruit” or something of the sort. Nope, “ahuacatl” translates to “testicle.” Now, the big question is, what does “avocado” have to do with “ahuacatl”? Fortunately (or unfortunately), you’ll have to use your imagination to answer that one.


What makes the origin of the word “Jeep” so intriguing is that there isn’t one specific source. Eight decades after the invention of Jeeps, there are still multiple theories circulating among fans regarding where this word originated. Some think it’s a reference to the “Eugene the Jeep” character from the Popeye comic strip (formerly known as Thimble Theatre), while others believe the moniker came from World War I, where new recruits were sometimes referred to as “Jeeps.”

Another popular theory is that the name came from the “GP” in “Ford GP,” one of the original Jeeps to hit the battlefield. Jeeps have such a rich history that the mysterious origin of the name is only one of many interesting facts about classic Jeeps worth learning. 

Now that you know a few common words with surprising origins, you have some fascinating facts to share with friends, family, and fellow wordsmiths. If you’re struggling to make good conversation, these are certainly a jumping-off point. That said, maybe leave the avocado story for after dinner.

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