Where Words Come From

January 16, 2019

canvas2ACADEMY – Where did the word “Academy” come from? The answer is the ancient Greeks from 2,500 years ago. The famous philosopher, Plato (427-347 B.C.), started a school of inquiry and learning. His school, the Academe, or also, Academia, was in a  grove of olive trees near Athens, owned  by a farmer. We  get the name of our prestigious schools the same way Plato did – after that plain, old fruit-tree farmer, Academes.

HAM ACTOR – Where did the word “Ham Actor” come from? The ham actor is one who is pretty far down the scale in acting ability. About 1875, a tenth-rate actor was called a hamfatter in the U.S. The early name derived from the fact that, for economic reasons, these actors used ham-fat instead of cold cream to remove the make-up. With no contempt, it is also applied to the large army of well-equipped amateur radio operators, probably because, in the early days of radio, these opera- tors were fumbling novices.

POTTER’S FIELD – This phrase goes all the way back to the time of Jesus’ death. Judas Iscariot, infamously, betrayed his Master to the Romans was a kiss on the cheek. He received 30 pieces of silver for  his treachery. Unable to live with himself, he threw the silver to the Jewish priests. Not knowing  what to do with such an ill-begotten windfall, the elders found some charitable work they could do with the silver. They purchased a field near Jerusalem which was particularly rich in clay. The craftsmen who made pots used this field for the raw material of their handiwork. The “potter’s field” was turned into Potter’s Field, a graveyard for travelers who died penniless. More than 2000 years later, we still call any such cemetery a Potter’s Field.

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