London: A new etymological guide has revealed origins of hundreds of everyday words and phrases, from Nazis and film buffs to heckling and humble pie.
The book called The Etymologicon says the term Nazi is an insult in use long before the rise of Adolf Hitler’s party.
It was a derogatory term for a backwards peasant – being a shortened version of Ignatius, a common name in Bavaria, the area from which the Nazis emerged.
The guide studies the influx of words into English, particularly at times of social change and conflict.
Mark Forsyth, the book’s compiler, has traced them through books and writings, some back as far as Ancient Greece.
“What I love about etymology is not the grand theories but the strange back alleys and extraordinary and ridiculous journeys that words take,” the Telegraph quoted Forsyth, a writer and etymologist, as saying.
The book also describes how “hello” was popularised by the advent of the telephone. Until then, it had been an obscure greeting, with people mostly using good morning, good day and good night.