Where Words Come From

February 11, 2019

words_ver2FLIRT – Where did the word “Flirt” come from? The answer is not until the middle of the 1700s, when the word was used as a verb meaning “to move jerkily.” At a gathering of the cream of London Society, there was a vivacious young widow, who shot one and then another man with an engaging smile. As they talked, she flirted her fan back and forth to capture even more attention. Lord Chesterfield observed Lady Frances Shirley, assessed the situation and snorted, “It’s plain to see she’s flirting.” The term quickly entered standard speech, so now anyone who makes playfully, romantic overtures is called a flirt.

“X” FOR A KISS – Where did the word X FOR A KISS come from?

The custom of putting Xs at the end of letters to symbolize kisses grew out of medieval legal practices. In order to indicate good faith and honesty, the sign of St. Andrew was placed after the signature on all important papers. This sign looked like the letter “X”. Each signer of

a contract was then required to kiss the cross to guarantee faithful performance of the obligations.

Over the centuries, the origin of the ceremony was forgotten. People associated X for the kiss instead of the pledge of good faith, and the modern custom was born.

BRIDEGROOM – Where did the word BRIDEGROOM come from? Modern usage of the word “groom” stands for a male servant or stable boy who is responsible for the care of horses. In the past, a groom was any person who performed a menial task. Also, long ago, marriage ceremonies included a feast, and in Europe,

the man was expected to act as a waiter to his new bride. He was the “bride’s groom,” now shortened to Bridegroom.

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