Etymology

Lately I’ve been stopping myself when I hear a word, a new word or a familiar one, and wondering how that word came to be. Like just today I wondered how we got the word “breakfast.” So I Googled it, then felt very stupid. Because it’s Old English for “break” and “fast,” meaning, I assume, breaking the fast, as in breaking the fasting that accompanies sleep, which is also part of intermittent fasting, but that’s a whole other post. I’m digressing, per usual.

Okay, so this happens to me a lot. Like a lot, lot. This stopping mid-sentence, or making a “hmm” face when someone is talking, or stopping an episode of Downtown Abbey to be like, wait a second, where did that word come from?! Does this happen to y’all? No. I’m just a word nerd. Got it.

So then I started thinking, how can this be of use? And well, there’s lots of ways, but mainly it’s just interesting and fun. And whenever I do something interesting and fun I like to share it with y’all. Therefore, I’ve decided to start sharing my research on words here. Read if you want. Unsubscribe if you must. I won’t be offended. I get it. So, without further ado, my first word is: Lunch. Sense a theme? I’m hungry, okay?!

“Lunch” is short for, you guessed it, “Luncheon,” which is 16th century English for “thick piece” or “hunk.” Not hunk in the way we would describe Channing Tatum or Idris Elba, but hunk as in a slice of something. Slice of what? Apple pie? Prolly. Speaking of slice, if you’re all, “Wait a second Missy, ‘lunch’ sounds suspiciously like the Spanish word for ‘slice’ any connection?” You’d be on to something. Also, I’m really proud of you for remembering that from 10th grade Spanish class!

The OED, which happens to be my favorite, wants “Luncheon” to be a mash-up of the Spanish word “lonja” as you said, and the Middle English word “nonechenche” which means “meal at midday.” Unless you say it five times fast to the beat of “Staying Alive” by The Bee Gees, then well, it creates a different meaning.

So there you have it. Lonja + nonechenche + The 1960s and 70s band The Bee Gees = Luncheon = Lunch. Probably.

Now don’t we all feel accomplished for the day. We learned something. This is going to be fun! So fun! Fun like watching Channing Tatum dance to Staying Alive, while Idris Elba stuffs dollar bills down Tatum’s pants! Whew! Okay, maybe not that fun. But, go out and have a nice lunch, would ya?

M.

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