The original word for “bear” (the animal) has been lost. Superstitious people in medieval times thought that saying the ferocious animal’s name would summon it, so they used a euphemism that meant “the brown one” (“bear”) … The original word was never recorded, so it remains a mystery.
The word Mortgage is a French Law term meaning “death pledge”. It doesn’t refer to the person (like a pledge to pay until death) or anything sinister like that. It refers to the fact that the deal “dies” either when payments cease or the principle is paid.
The name Panos is a common Greek name, but it will make any Russian chuckle when they hear it. “Panos” is Russian for diarrhea.
The word “nice” used to mean “foolish, stupid, senseless,” and comes from the Latin “nescire”, meaning “to be ignorant.”
Redundant phrases such as “ATM Machine” and “PIN Number” are examples of RAS Syndrome – Redundant Acronym Syndrome Syndrome.
Russians have a word “Zapoi” to describe several days of continuous drunkenness during which one withdraws from society.
J.R.R. Tolkien created the words “dwarvish” and “dwarves”, countering the spelling at the time of the books publication which was “dwarfish” and “dwarfs”, and many dictionaries now consider this the proper way to spell the words.
The word “impossible” dropped in use by 50% over the course of the 20th century.
The German word Backpfeifengesicht – a face that cries out for a fist in it.