The English word “avocado” comes from the Spanish word aguacate, which comes from the Aztec word ahuacatl, which means “testicle”. This is most likely because the avocado, growing in dangling pairs, resembled the body part. Fresh guacamole, anyone?
Grand Tetons is French for “big tits”. Presumably the French voyageurs who first ran across this mountain range in western Wyoming were missing their wives. As they paddled up to these perky peaks, they named them after what was foremost on their minds.
Some decades later, the US Park Service named a new national park after cleavage. The Big Boobs Back Forty! I hear it’s a great place to bring your motorboat…
Do you live in a cul-de-sac? Well, the word “cul” is French for behind, bottom, rear end. It’s more street-wise than, say, derriere. In short, “cul-de-sac” literally means “ass of bag”.
Think about that the next time you see a realtor’s ad which says “this house is in a desirable location”.
Maidenhead is a town outside of London, England. It’s also the classic and relatively polite term for the unbroken hymen of a female, which was taken as a sign of virginity (though an unreliable one, as it turns out).
The tie between town and tissue is more complex, though. The term “maidenhead” dates to 1200 or so, when “hede” meant “condition or state of being”. This is starting to make more sense, right?
The town’s name was originally “Maiden-hythe”, where hythe was Saxon for “wharf”. No one knows exactly how the “Maiden” part got in, but eventually the whole thing got contracted to Maidenhead and the name stuck.
I find it funny how our straight-laced ancestors were scandalized over the sight of a lady’s ankle, but were open enough about virginity to name a town after it. Hell, early American colonists named a state after it (Virginia) in honor of their virgin queen (Elizabeth I). Apparently the first Queen Liz was very proud of her maidenhead, even though its maintenance necessarily meant the end of the Tudor dynasty.
Think you know about Columbus? You probably don’t — most of what we learned about that tale is wrong.
One myth is the names of his ships. Columbus’ lonely sailors nicknamed these ships after women. The real names are forgotten by all but historians; it’s the nicknames we know today.
Two ships were named after what these sailors missed the most — prostitutes. Maria was a well-loved prostitute, and Pintada, or “the painted one”, was local slang for same. Naturally, church and elementary school officials sanitized those details over the years.
There are undoubtedly others out there… know of any?