Language Quiz / Etymology: Truth or Myth?

Random Language or Definition Quiz

Can you decide whether the colorful origin stories for these words are true (T) or myths (M)?

 Plays Quiz Updated Feb 20, 2019

     
How to PlayForced OrderWrong Answers
Support Sporcle.
Go Orange.
Score 0/15 Timer 15:00
Alleged EtymologyTruth (T) or Myth (M)?
FEDORA: from a 19th century play in which the protagonist, a Russian princess named Fedora Romanoff, notoriously wore a center-creased, soft-brimmed hat.
MORTGAGE: from Old French 'mort' (death) + 'gage' (contract), as either the debt dies (if the property is paid off) or the property dies (i.e. is lost if the debt is not paid).
SNAFU: from US military slang in World War II, as an acronym for 'situation normal, all f---'d up'.
CHECKMATE: not actually a compound of 'check' and 'mate', but rather comes from Persian 'shah mat' ('the king is defeated'), describing the endgame of chess.
MARMALADE: corruption of French 'Marie est malade' ('Mary is ill'), referring to Mary, Queen of Scots's habit of consuming citrus preserves to treat her debilitating headaches.
POSH: acronym for 'Port Out, Starboard Home', the locations most sheltered from the hot sun (and therefore of the most expensive, 'posh' cabins) on ships to and from British India.
SILHOUETTE: named for unpopular 1700s finance minister Etienne de Silhouette; flimsy 'silhouette' portraits made by projecting shadows onto cards were popular during his tenure.
GRINGO: a Spanish pejorative for foreigners, arose from the English phrase 'green grow' in the Mexican-American War when US troops were often heard singing 'Green Grow the Lilies.'
YEN: (in the sense of 'desire/longing') is unrelated to the Japanese currency; it entered English after the Second Opium War, from a Chinese term meaning 'craving for opium'.
LOOPHOLE: originally referred to the slits in a castle wall through which archers would fire, these being the wall's only points of weakness.
TURKEY: the bird was named for the country; Europeans mistook the American bird for a guinea fowl, a species also called 'turkey fowl' since it was traded to Europe by the Turks.
CLUE: from Middle French 'clef' ('key'), which gave rise to both English 'clef' (the key of a piece of music) and 'clue' (the key to a mystery).
DUNCE: from the middle name of John Duns Scotus, a 13th century theologian whose works were ridiculed by later scholars as hairsplitting and foolish.
ATONEMENT: literally 'at-one-ment'; to 'atone' for something is to return to harmony/unity, i.e. to be 'at one', with God or with those you have wronged.
NYLON: named from a mashup of 'New York' (NY) and 'London' (Lon.) because the material was developed by a collaborative team of researchers working in those two cities.

From the Vault

Spot the Difference XLIX

by Cutthroat

Make sure you also do this quiz while jousting on your noble steed.
Remove Ads.
Support Sporcle.
Get the best of Sporcle when you Go Orange. This ad-free experience offers more features, more stats, and more fun while also helping to support Sporcle. Thank you for becoming a member.

Show Comments

Extras

Top Quizzes Today


Score Distribution

Your Account Isn't Verified!

In order to create a playlist on Sporcle, you need to verify the email address you used during registration. Go to your Sporcle Settings to finish the process.

Report this User

Report this user for behavior that violates our Community Guidelines.

Details: