Top 12 of the most bizarre etymologies, the unlikely origins of the French language

Admittedly, at the moment we are more at the point of simplifying the French language than of picking on it lice, but we thought that it might not be a bad thing to know a little about where the words we Used it every day, and we were surprised. From tennis to bakery to sofa, here is the strange origin of the words of our daily life.

1. Bachelor’s degree

Baccalauréat comes from “baccalaris”, a Gallic term meaning “young peasant” and “laurearus”, Latin word for “adorned with laurels”. Here, a bachelor is a peasant with branches on his head.

2. Baker

A guy who makes charcuterie is called a charcutier, but someone who bakes bread is called a baker. Why ? Because the baker mixes and kneads, and in the peasantry “baking” consisted of mixing straw and hay for the animals.

3. Sofa

There are several explanations for Canapé but the tastiest comes from Castilian. In the Middle Ages, nobles warmed their feet with their dogs lying on them. The “cans a pé”, the dogs at the foot. Smart.

4. Kite

If some say that the “deer” of “kite” comes from a beetle whose mandibles recall the antlers of deer, the most common etymology would come from “serp-volant”, diminutive of “flying snake”. , the original form of kites reminiscent of dragons.

5. Sweater

Sweater would be the abbreviation of “garlic merchant”, referring to the fact that the guys sold their products outside and protected themselves from the cold with a thick vest. It’s a bit far-fetched, we grant you.

6. Poppy

You don’t have to look far for the poppy. If the name of the flower reminds you of the rooster’s crow, it is because it descends directly from it, the red of its petals evoking the bird’s crest.

7. Moron

Contrary to what many think, cretin does not come from a Christian at all but derives from a Valaisan expression. Indeed, the Swiss of this region who lived at altitude, on the “ridges”, drank almost pure rainwater, which did not have time to take on minerals and iodine on the way down. in the valley. Deficiencies led to various malformations and symptoms known as “cretinism”.

8. Devil

Have you ever thought about the proximity between “devil” and “diabolo”? Devil would actually come from the Greek “diábolos” (which disunites, which divides), a bit like the gesture that all letter students make in the parks in the summer at one time or another by throwing their diabolo towards the heavens .

9. Family

Among the Romans, the family was not just dad mom and brothers brothers. No, it was rather all the slaves attached to a master. The “familia” was the set of “famili” which meant “servant”. If your mother says to you one day “I’m not your maid” you can always try to retort that, it won’t work and you’ll look like a little idiot, but it’s a try.

10. Infarction

The heart attack is scary, but its origin is rather greedy. In Latin, it means “to fill with stuffing”, a bit like the little clot that clogs your arteries. Appetizing.


It would seem that the origins of the word rat have been somewhat lost over time, but some argue that it would find its origin in Germany or Norway in the onomatopoeia that the rodent makes when it eats. It’s a little easy but it can be true.

12. Tennis

The origin of tennis comes from tennis. While passing the ball to the other, the player would say “Hold on! pronounced “Tenets” which gradually turned into “tennis” as the term crossed the English Channel. They are good these English.

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