So I thought I would take a different twist this week, and use one word clichés. There are an awful lot of them out there, and sometimes I hear a word during the day and I wonder where it came from….
Robot: I have to say, in all honesty I have never wondered about this one. But it is an intriguing provance. During WWI a play was written by Karl Capek,a Czech who was an early pioneer of science fiction. In the play, he created mechanized monsters who revolted against their maker. As the Czech word for drudgery was “robota”, Capek changed the term to “robot” for his monsters.
Limelight: everyone has heard this one, as someone is always stealing the “limelight.” But why do we call it that? In 1816 a light source was developed for theaters by Thomas Drummond. It was a bright light that used lens in front of a cylinder of lime heated by a incandescence flame. Actors were soon trying to edge each other out to stand in the limelight and be seen by the audience clearly.
Jaybird: or Jaywalker. There are many types of Jays, the most common being the Blue Jay. However, they are best in forests and when they ventured into urban areas they often got confused. Walking anywhere they wanted, they were known for walking out into traffic. Thus, people who walk out into traffic are called jay birds or jaywalkers.
Rodeo: not surprisingly, this word comes from Texas. In 1882 a rancher offered $100 prizes for bulldogging, roping and bronco riding. In 1916 a promoter of the events decided to use “rodeo,” a Spanish term for roundup as he sold tickets. Rodeos have become more and more popular ever since.
Bushed: this term means exactly what it says. It comes from Dutch settlers, who often had to clear the land. “They often proclaimed after carving out a trail that they were “bush” (exhausted).”* Now people say they are bushed for any reason, work or play.
Blackball: being blackballed was a well-known term during the McCarthy era. Originally, however, the term came from the method that exclusive clubs voted to take in the new members. They would drop a white or black ball into a container, white meaning yes and black meaning no. More than one black ball meant the member wasn’t accepted, and the phrase “blackballed” was born.