Thursday, October 13, 2016

Language of Confusion: Grave Situations, Part II

More death related stuff! Fun!

Coffin showed up in the early fourteenth century, where it meant a chest or something that held valuables. It comes from the Old French cofin, which meant sarcophagus or basket (or coffer, actually), and before that the classical Latin cophinus, basket. So yeah, coffin used to mean a basket until the sixteenth century. Also, not making this up, it once meant a pie crust. This is just gold.

Cemetery first showed up in the late fourteenth century, coming from the Old French cimetiere, graveyard. Before that it was the Late Latin coemeterium and Greek koimeterion, cemeteries, which itself is actually from koiman or keimai, put to sleep or lie down. That word in turn comes from the Proto Indo European kei-, rest, lie, or bed. That kei happens to be part of tons of words, by the way, meaning that cemetery is a distant relative of hide, city, and…the Hindu god Shiva?! What?!

Next on our list is tomb, which showed up in the early thirteenth century from the Anglo French tumbe and Old French tombe. That of course comes from the Late Latin tumba and (again) Greek tymbos, which is just tomb. The what-the-hell part of this one also comes from the Proto Indo European. Tymbos comes from the root word teue-, swell. Which is somehow the origin word for thigh.

Mausoleum showed up in the mid sixteenth century meaning “magnificent tomb”. It comes from the classical Latin mausoleum which means mausoleum. Okay, I’ll give you a minute to wrap your head around that before we continue. Anyway, that word is traced to the Greek (because all grave related words have to be apparently) Mausoleion, which means mausoleum but is also the name of a tomb built for a guy named Mausolos. So because of some guy’s name we have mausoleum.



  1. Some of this is really random... pie crusts and thighs? Definitely fun, though!

  2. Quite a legacy- his name ended up a defined word.

  3. Hmm... I'm going to have to think of way to use that pie crust thing.

  4. What do they call it when something is named after a person? I know that has a name.

    On Monday I spend much of the day asleep in front of the TV (best thing for a cold--rest). Because I need something mildly interesting or else I'll remain awake, I turned on some Halloween baking show. They had some strange challenges (most of which I slept through).

    My point (and I do have one), is that someone actually made coffin pies. I couldn't tell you if he won the challenge, though.

    1. I meant some word. Some word is named after a person.

  5. The way words relate to one another is often mind blowing!


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