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Sunday, October 30, 2005

Word Origins Quiz

1. Which word derives from the Latin for `crossroads’? (To be more precise, this word means `three roads’ in Latin.)
Ans: Trivia (from “tri” + “via”, which means “three streets”); in ancient times, at an intersection of three streets in Rome, they would have a type of kiosk where ancillary information was listed. You might be interested in it, you might not. Hence they were called bits of "trivia."

2. What’s the Italian for "small ball or pebble."? (cue: think of elections)
Ans: Ballot; Italian citizens once voted by casting a small pebble or ball into one of several boxes.

3. Which edible item has its origin to a medieval French term meaning `cooked twice.’?
Ans: Biscuit (Bis + cuit)

4. Which word traces its origin to the Italian for `goat’. It was named so because the first public transportation carriages flooded the streets so much with “for hire” boards that they reminded people of goats on a hillside.
### Cab (`Cabra’ is the Spanish for `goat’.)

5. In French, this word stands for `of good air’. It has its origin to the Middle Ages when health of a person was judged partly by how they smelled. The one who gave off “good air” was adjudged to be healthier and happier. Give me the name of the word in question.
### Debonair

6. In ancient Rome, when there was a newborn in a family, the father used to claim it legally by sitting in front of his family and placing the child on his knees. Which word originated from this practice? Today you use this word when you wish to say that something/someone is `real’, `authentic’, `legitimate’ etc.
### Genuine; This word originally meant "placed on the knees."