9 Words You Didn’t Know Had Noble Beginnings

Words are powerful things. Some of them even have backstories that are pretty impressive! Read through this list of words with historical origins, and who knows — you might even be surprised at where Bacardi started, too.

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“Amazon” dates back to the 1300s when the Greeks used it to describe the female Scythian warrior. Popular lore says that these women would cut off their breasts to better draw their bowstrings (which makes sense because “a-mazos” means “without breasts”).

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“Malaria” originates from the medieval words “mal” and “aria,” which referred to the terrible vapor that came from the swamps in Rome. At the time, it was assumed that the fever going around was from that stale air, but it was actually from protozoans in mosquitoes that bred there.

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The name of this tasty little fruit (yes, fruit) has fairly comical beginnings. Due to the shape of the avocado, the Aztecs first named it “ahucatl”—which was their word for “testicle.” When the fruit made its way back to Europe, “ahucatl” was pronounced “avocado.”


Also known as the “Rum and Coke,” the Cuba Libre means “Free Cuba.” It was invented around 1900 by patriots who aided Cuba in the Spanish-American War. The first Cuba Libre was made with Bacardi Rum and cola, a recipe still maintained today.

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“Quarantine” is the French word for “about forty.” It refers to the practice of when ships that were suspected of carrying disease docked in a port, all cargo and crew were kept away from the shore for 40 days.

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The word “freedom” is derived from the pre-Christian German word “friede,” which means “peace.” It was used to describe periods of relief from the bloodshed between two opposing Germanic tribes.

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“Noon” is Latin for “ninth.” It originally meant the ninth hour after sunrise (or 3pm), which was the hottest part of the day for those in ancient Rome.

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Stemming from the word “ostron,” the Greeks would hold meetings to figure out if someone was a danger to the community. The group would cast their votes on broken pieces of pottery, which were then tallied to determine if the person in question should be banished (or “ostracized”) to protect everyone else.

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The Latin word “liber” means “to pour.” Therefore, the word “liberty” is in reference to the freedom we feel when celebrating.

Inspired by “¡Vivimos!”

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