You use these words every day but you never knew where they came from... You'll just love our doolally dictionary!


1. Addict

In Ancient Rome, a soldier might be rewarded with a slave called an ‘addict’. And now, just look at us all… Slaves (or addicts) to sex, booze, fags, chocolate and telly…


2. Avocado

Word origins: Man holding an avocado suggestively


Ooh er, missus! From the Aztec word ‘ahuacati’ meaning testicle! Just look at that shape and think about it – though not for too long… You’ll never see a salad in the same light. (Just be sure to gobble ’em up before they go black and mushy!)


3. Disaster

It’s written in the stars – and it’s all Greek. Basically, ‘dis’ means bad, and ‘aster ‘ means star. So, bad luck is all down to rubbish planetary positions.


4. Fizzle

From the old English ‘fisting’, meaning farting! By the 17th century, ‘fizzle’ came to mean a sneaky, squeaky trump (parp).  It’s also related to the word feisty.


5. Hazard

Warning! Warning! Vehicle reversing! Actually, this word comes from the Arabic ‘al zahr’ meaning ‘dice’. It came to have a negative connotation during the Crusades. One bad roll could land you in all sorts of trouble…


6. Jumbo

Word origins: elephant on a scooter


As you tuck into your jumbo sausage roll, spare a thought for the original meaning… ‘Jamba’ or ‘jumbo’ first meant a ‘clumsy fellow’ and then ‘elephant’ in a west African lingo. It only took the meaning of ‘massive’ when the first elephant ever to be brought to London Zoo (in 1860) was named Jumbo. He became an animal superstar. Something to phone home about – quick, make a trunk call! Tusk tusk!


7. Lukewarm

Bit of Double Dutch here, or at least double English. ‘Luke’ meant ‘warm’ in Middle English, so lukewarm technically means ‘warm warm’. Pardon? Pardon?


8. Mortgage

From the French, meaning ‘death pledge’. Yup, those monthly payments certainly feel that way to us…


9. Nice

Told at school never to use the word ‘nice’? No wonder – it’s Latin for ‘ignorant’. (With apologies to the biscuits of the same name…)


10. Quarantine

Seen those airport shows on telly, with poor moggies stuck in quarantine? In fact the word comes from the French or Italian words for 40. If a 17th century boat came in but was suspected of being infected, it had to stay away from shore for a whole 40 days. Ship ahoy? No ta, not if you’ve got the lurgy!

11. Tragedy

Word origins: goat bleating


Aww cute, but sad… Greek for the song of the male goat. But don’t go bleating on about it.


And finally…

Did you know the first person to use the phrase ‘OMG’ was a 75-year-old British admiral nearly a century ago?! John Arbuthnot Fisher wrote in his 1917 diary: ‘I hear that a new order of Knighthood is on the tapia – O.M.G (Oh! My God!) – Shower it on the admiralty!’