“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”).
“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.
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.”
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.