Culture and Society

10 Words: I Want To Go To There


#1: Bombay Duck

The Bombay duck or bummalo (Marathi: bombil) is, despite its name, not a duck but a fish. It is native to the waters between Mumbai (formerly Bombay) and Kutch in the Arabian Sea, and a small number are also found in the Bay of Bengal.

The story goes that the train compartments of the Bombay Dak (in English, the Bombay Mail) would smell of the fish, consequently leading the British to euphemistically refer to the peculiar smell as the “Bombay Dak”.

#2: Marathon

After defeating the Persians at the battle of Marathon, a town in southern Greece, the Athenians sent a messenger to run the 25 miles back home.

According to legend, he delivered the news and then dropped dead.

Marathons became 26 miles, 385 yards at the 1908 Games in London when extra yards were added so the race would finish in front of the royal box.

#3: Bungalow

A bungalow is a type of single-story house that originated in India.

The word derives from the Gujarati બંગલો baṅgalo, which in turn derives from the Hindi  बंगला baṅglā, meaning “Bengali” and used elliptically for a “house in the Bengal style”.

Such houses were traditionally small, only one story and thatched, and had a wide veranda.

 #4: Sodomy

For the sins of their inhabitants Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboim were destroyed by “brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven.”

The story has therefore given rise to words in several languages, including the English word “sodomy,” a term used today predominantly in law (derived from traditional Christian usage) to describe non-vaginal intercourse, as well as bestiality, and homosexuality.

 #5: Tequila

Developed in Mexico in the 16th century, this was probably the first distilled alcoholic beverage created in North America.

It’s made from the fermented juice of the Mexican agave plant.

Some of the best was – and still is – made in the town of Tequila

#6: Mocha

What would urban existence be without café mocha? It is typically one third espresso  and two thirds steamed milk, but a portion of chocolate  is added, typically in the form of sweet cocoa powder, although many varieties use chocolate syrup.

Café mocha takes its name from the Red Sea coastal town of Mocha, Yemen, which as far back as the fifteenth century was a dominant exporter of coffee, especially to areas around the Arabian Peninsula.

 #7: Glasgow Smile

A Glasgow smile (also known as a Glasgow grin, Anna grin, Chelsea grin or Chelsea smile) is a nickname for the result of cutting a victim’s face from the edges of the mouth to the ears. The cut – and the scars it leaves – form an extension of what resembles a smile. The practice originated in the Scottish  city of Glasgow, which gave it its name.

The Batman villain Joker, Fight Club’s narrator and Slipknot guitarist James Root are enthusiasts.

 #8: Tuxedo

Sometimes called a “monkey suit,” its origins involve the wolf. Here’s why:

In the 1880s the village of Tuxedo Park, about 50 miles north of Manhattan, became a popular resort. It was here that some young men, disregarding the fashion of the day, began to wear dinner jackets without tails.

The new style was soon called the tuxedo.

And the name of the town? It comes from a Native American word meaning wolf.

 #9: Bikini

In July 1946, the United States detonated two nuclear bombs at the Bikini atoll, an island in the South Pacific, which of course was big news around the world.

A year later, a French fashion designer introduced a scanty two-piece bathing suit and named it the bikini.

Unable to find a model immodest enough to wear it, he debuted it on a stripper – and it too became big news.

 #10: Lesbian

Originally, lesbian simply meant “from Lesbos,” the Greek island pictured here.

Its current sense comes from the ancient poet Sappho, who lived on Lesbos around 600 BC and wrote poems that dealt with the relationships – sometimes passionate – between women.


[Originally seen on Ionic]


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