What Are the Origins of Some Common Words?


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The origin of the word "hello" in publications dates back to 1827, when it was used to attract attention. It wasn't until Thomas Edison proposed it become the standard telephone greeting, in opposition to Alexander Graham Bell's suggestion of "ahoy," that it caught on as a greeting. "Ahoy" had been a nautical greeting for at least 100 years previous, derived from the Dutch "hoi," meaning "hi." Due to telephone books printing "hello" as the suggested greeting, it caught on.

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The origin of the word "blog" began when Jorn Barger coined the term "weblog" in December 1997. Peter Merholtz split the word in two in 1999, and posted "we blog" on the side of his weblog. This was interpreted as both a noun and a verb shortening of "weblog."

The word "shampoo" was derived form the Hindi word "ch?mpo," which referred to a head massage, usually done with hair oil. In 1814 a Bengali entrepreneur brought this practice to England when he opened "Mahomed’s Indian Vapour Baths," and offered champi, or shampoo, treatments. In the 1900s the word transitioned to meaning the application of the product instead of the massage.

The word "news," which first appeared around the 14th century, was created from an adjective, "new," a relatively rare happening in the English language.

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