Interesting Facts of Etymology

Sparta, NJ, resident Michael Perry joined ClubsGalore as head of marketing in 2012. Aside from his dedication to his professional activities, Michael Perry enjoys studying various aspects of etymology.

Studying the history of words and phrases might seem rather academic to some people, but the stories behind common language are often fascinating. For example, the words “idiot,” “imbecile,” and “moron” did not originate as generic insults. Instead, they were official psychology terms used as late as the 1960s to describe individuals with IQs between 0 and 25, 26 and 50, and 51 and 70, respectively. As the terms faded from professional use, they infiltrated common language as less than flattering terms.

In other instances, etymology provides information about historical events or cultural movements, often through words known as eponyms, which derive from people’s names. The act of boycotting a product or service, for example, has occurred since the days of the ancient Greeks. The boycott that launched the name occurred in 1880 against Captain Charles Boycott, a land manager in Ireland whose underwhelming response to a poor harvest led his tenants to cease tending the land. Boycott eventually caved and lowered the tenant’s rent, which falls in line with the purpose of a boycott.