5 Words You Use Every Day With Shockingly Dark Backstories

#2. "Cheaters" Were King's Officers Who Stole Your Things

BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images

Say you're playing Monopoly, for some reason, and you decide to just grab your friend's properties and put them on your side. Some people would say you're cheating (the rest would agree that society's rules don't apply to Monopoly). Well, it turns out that the word "cheat" comes from a real-world version of what we just described ... only instead of plastic properties, it was real ones, and the one doing the stealing was the king.

Via Creatinghistory.com
Their version of flipping over the board was called "raiding your land and beheading your family."

Not surprisingly, this starts with the French. The old French "escheat" was something that you got by luck, something good that fell into your lap through no doing of your own. Unexpected spoils of war would be "cheats." If your great-uncle died and left you his favorite sex goat, that would be a cheat. At first, the word didn't have a negative connotation: It was more about getting a lucky break.

That didn't last long. Kings in the Middle Ages wanted to get in on that action, too, only their "lucky breaks" were somewhat more juicy than everyone else's. For example, if you unexpectedly died and had no one to leave your land to, it would fall back to the king as a cheat. The same thing would happen if your rightful heir had committed a crime, or if "the land's owner is a bastard."

Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images
"You mean all of this will be mine someday?"
"Well, 'mine' is a matter of perception."

The king even appointed special officers to go around looking for stuff that should be his. They were dubbed "escheatours," or "cheaters" in English. The problem was that these officers didn't always wait for you to die or do something wrong before they took your stuff. They would go around taking shit for the king or themselves and therefore had a reputation for being corrupt and greedy. Some con men would even pretend to be cheaters, forging the king's seal to scam people. These shenanigans gave a bad name to the word "cheating" and to cheaters everywhere.

#1. "Bigot" Was Originally Used to Make Fun of One Race

Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images

There are two main theories about the origin of the word "bigot," but both are based on historical dick moves, and both are ridiculous.

One theory claims that "bigot" comes from the Spanish for mustache, "bigote" -- apparently, while fighting at the siege of Granada, the Spaniards were so impressed by the Swiss soldiers' mustaches that they began calling all Swiss folk "bigote."

Simon Willms/Lifesize/Getty Images
"Say ... cheese."

Somehow this must have evolved into a word for all foreigners and then to someone who hates them. Damn their intolerant views and their thick, luxuriant mustaches!

The other theory says that "bigot" came from the phrase "by God," and from that it became the slang term for intolerant religious types. Specifically, it was used as an offensive term for the Normans in the 12th century. These guys lived in part of Northern France (we know it now as Normandy) and were known for being highly religious. The traditional story is that the Normans were so excited to be converted to Christianity that they ran around screaming "By God! By God! By God! Baptize us already!" To us that sounds less like excitement and more like being chased about by murderous crusaders, but who are we to quibble?

Via Wikipedia
"Wait, is that urine? You sick fucks!"

In any case, this theory claims that "by God" became so associated with the Normans' culture that it was soon used as a derogatory nickname for them. Some sources pin this on one specific Norman: Rollo, Duke of Normandy. Rollo became a duke by marrying Gisla, the daughter of King Charles the Simple of France. Charles, a man of simple pleasures, demanded that Rollo kiss his feet to seal the deal. A disgusted Rollo responded: "Not so by God."

Apparently the king and his court were amused by Rollo's reaction. We'll just quote the next part straight from a book so you can see that we're not making this shit up: "Upon which, the king and his courtiers deriding him, and corruptly repeating his answer, called him bigit; from whence the Normans were called, bigodi, or bigots."

Via Wikimedia Commons
And then they had him frozen in carbonite.

Anyway, the nickname was especially used to describe the Normans as religious hypocrites (since they liked to announce their righteousness so loudly), and then it became a catchall word for religious jerks before being narrowed down to just intolerant people in general. We still kind of prefer the mustache thing.

For more ways to check your vernacular, check out 8 Racist Words You Use Every Day and 9 Words You've Used Today With Bizarre Criminal Origins.

Recommended For Your Pleasure

To turn on reply notifications, click here


The Cracked Podcast

Choosing to "Like" Cracked has no side effects, so what's the worst that could happen?

The Weekly Hit List

Sit back... Relax... We'll do all the work.
Get a weekly update on the best at Cracked. Subscribe now!