From ‘Scientist’ to ‘Spam,’ the Surprisingly Playful Origins of English Words - Deepstash
The Startup Masterclass

Learn more about personaldevelopment with this collection

How to start a successful business

How to build a strong team

How to market your business

The Startup Masterclass

Discover 160 similar ideas in

It takes just

25 mins to read

How the word "scientist" came into being

How the word "scientist" came into being

During an 1833 meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, a spirited discussion took place to determine what to call those who worked in the different branches of their profession.

William Whewell suggested the word scientist, an obviously superficial suggestion that could not be considered seriously for a moment. Six decades later, it is still used.


619 reads

How many useful words and phrases start

Many useful words and phrases start as a quip, wisecrack, or throwaway line. Andy Warhol once said that eventually "everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes," but it inspired a useful and lasting expression. Today, the key words "fifteen minutes" refer to a short period in the public eye.

A playful spirit can promote word creation. Hoosegow is more fun to say than jail, and flimflam feels better than swindle. OK began as an inside journalists joke, an abbreviation for the misspelling "oll korrect."


315 reads

The origins of "bunk"

During the Sixteenth Congress, representative Felix Walker of Buncombe County, North Carolina, often said that he was "only talking for Buncombe." His earnestness amused his colleagues, who began to use it themselves.

"Talking for Buncombe" morphed into "talking Bunkum" and was shortened to bunk, a synonym for "nonsense." In 1923, William Woodward published a farcical takedown of American business practices as Bunk. A protagonist of Woodward's novel determined to "take the bunk out of things." He became a professional de-bunker.


219 reads

Dr Seuss started the word spam

Lewis Carroll and Dr Seuss have contributed many new words to the adult lexicon, such as snark, nerd, and grinch because they had an awareness of the fun-hunger surrounding readers.

In Seuss's book The Tooth Book, Pam the Clam craves "Pizza! Popcorn! Spam!" Spam owes its popularity to Monty Python's Flying Circus that features it in a skit involving Vikings who sit in a cafe singing "Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, lovely Spam, lovely Spam," making it impossible for anyone else to talk. Spam became the go-to term for online junk mail.


217 reads

Coining digital vocabulary

  • "Software" began as an unserious programmers' antonym of "hardware."
  • "Bluetooth" was a funny name for a wireless system. Bluetooth was a nickname of a tenth-century Scandinavian king with a tooth so decayed it looked blue.
  • "Blog" is a contraction of "web log."
  • Many other words that started as cyber slang are included in the Oxford English Dictionary - for example, "crowdsourcing."
  • Jeff Howe introduced "wired" as a name for online consultation among larger groups.


259 reads



I get my inspiration from nature and objects around me. I have a passion to colours, typography and skateboards.

Read & Learn

20x Faster





Access to 200,000+ ideas

Access to the mobile app

Unlimited idea saving & library

Unlimited history

Unlimited listening to ideas

Downloading & offline access

Personalized recommendations

Supercharge your mind with one idea per day

Enter your email and spend 1 minute every day to learn something new.


I agree to receive email updates