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Words to the Wise

Your Etymological Queries Answered

From Iluvnixgreeneyes:

Hi. I have two questions for you. I have a lot of friends who are always saying slang terms and I feel stupid because I don't know what they mean. One word they are always saying is queef. I think I know what it is but I just wanted to know what it means exactly and where it came from.

The second thing is a few friends of mine are having a controversy. What does chode mean or does it even have a meaning? Some say it is intestines,A Persian prince with pipe others say it is a piece of skin in the genital area, do u know?  If you can help me I would appreciate it. 

Yes, chode is a word.  It is considered obsolete these days but it once meant "chided".  And perhaps a good chiding is what you deserve.  Firstly, for not sharing your understanding of queef, and secondly... are you pulling our leg? According to High Times (June, 2002) choad (please note spelling) is the tarry residue which accumulates in a pipe used for smoking marijuana.  We can only guess that it may be related to chaud, French for "hot".

So could queef to be an inaccurate pronunciation of qif (also spelled kif, keif or kief )?  Among such Americans who are familiar with the commodity, kif  has come to mean uncompressed hashish powder.  This is not its original meaning, though.  In the Maghrebi dialect of Arabic (spoken in Morocco and Algeria) it means "marijuana" and derives from kaif meaning "well-being" or "good-humor".

Of course, your "friends" could be Beavis and Butthead. For a more detailed anatomical answer, please see our forthcoming ECCS-rated pages. The curious should know that ECCS stands for "Etymology of Coarse and Controversial Slang".

From Georg Trimborn:

I know what Diaspora means; I'm interested in its similarity to the roots of diaper - is there any relation?

Superficially, yes, but etymologically, no. While the Greek root of diaper is diaspros and the Greek root of Diaspora is diaspora, diaspros is formed from dia- "two" plus aspros "white". Diaspora, on the other hand,  is formed from dia- "through" and speirein "to sow, to scatter".  The Diaspora (capital D) refers to dispersion of the Jews among the Gentiles after the Captivity.  The word, with a lower case d, is lately being used to refer to other scatterings, like that of Africans to other parts of the globe as slaves.

The word dates only from about 1876 in English.  It comes from the Greek translation of Deuteronomy 28:25: "Thou shalt be a diaspora (or dispersion) in all kingdoms of the earth."

From Jessica Slusser:

I have been searching to find the origin of the term brown nose, as in "to suck up", or "kiss ass".

The Oxford English Dictionary refers us to Webster's dictionary of 1961 for the etymology of this term: "from the implication that servility is tantamount to having one’s nose in the anus of the person from whom advancement is sought".  Isn't that a lovely way of putting it?  We don't think we need to say anything else about it, except that the term first appears in the written record in 1939.

From Rob Martin:

I have been researching the history of the humble doughnut/donut and trying to work out its etymology.  The dough part is clear enough, but I am having great difficulty with nut.  Some say it's derived from knot, while others say that nut alludes to the ring shape, alluding to a derivation from the word nut as in nuts and bolts.  Please help!

Mmmm, doughnuts [drool, slobber].  Krispy Kreme, here we come!unpaid advertizing for our favorite doughnuts

We love doughnuts.  Especially good ones.  It's not easy getting good doughnuts these days.  Most of them are too heavy and too sweet.  Krispy Kreme makes the best we've had in a while (best when they are hot), but Southern Maid in Dallas, Texas, or Shipley's in Houston, Texas, really made the best doughnuts ever and we simply have not been able to find their equal anywhere else.  What?  We're supposed to be discussing what?  Etymology?  Well, you can't eat etymology!

All right, back to the history of the word doughnut.  The earliest occurrence of the word is in the work of Washington Irving (1809).  He had to define the word, so we can assume that it was not a widely known dish at the time, at least to his audience.  And, interestingly, he defines doughnuts as "balls of sweetened dough, fried in hog's fat".  This suggests that doughnuts were not named after knots or nuts and bolts, but instead after nuts like walnuts or pecans.  They were balls of dough that, when fried to a deep golden brown, resembled nuts.  Doughnuts only took their torus shape to overcome a problem inherent in balls of dough - uncooked centers.  Removing the centers ensured that the doughnuts would be cooked throughout.

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