The words we assign to the things we encounter as we drunkenly stumble across this big blue ball of ours are often self-explanatory. The White House is a house that is white. A housefly flies around your house. Chad in accounting works in accounting and is also an unbearable douche. However, that's not always the case, because the bit of the human brain responsible for naming things tends to revert to its nine-year-old stage at the slightest provocation, resulting in an astonishing number of places, animals, and things named after boobs, poop, and penises.
6"Butterfly" Is A Shortening Of A Dutch Word For "Butter-Shitter"
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Yes, "butter-shitter." How this came about will take some explaining. Mankind has held a fascination for butterflies since long before the members of Crazy Town decided to get together and sell albums to middle-schoolers. The ancient Greek name for the insect was psyche, the same as their word for "soul." Modern Greek, on the other hand, has dubbed them petalouda, in reference to a petal or leaf. And other languages have followed suit, with fluttery words like the French papillon and the Italian farfalla -- better known to the average American as bow-tie pasta, because the only way for an American to truly retain information is if it's somehow related to massive carbohydrate intake.
Travis K. Witt
Facts are easier to digest when cooked and covered in cream sauce.
And then there's "butterfly," which doesn't seem to fit in with the other names at all. How did such a delicate creature -- one which in no way resembles a flapping stick of butter -- get such a name? (See "we name things after food," above.) Well, one clue lies in the fact that Germany calls them schmetterlings (a word derived from "cream"), stemming from the old-timey folk belief that butterflies were secretly witches in disguise, out on the prowl to steal people's fucking milk, because Germany is insane. More directly, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, the name finds its roots in the Old Dutch word boterschijte. Guess what it means.
The Silly Origin:
We know it looks like a mouthful, but try to sound it out. Boterschijte. Chew on it for a moment. Did the jumbled mess that poured out of your mouth sound an awful lot like "butter-shitter"? If so, congratulations! You are now an expert in Old Dutch.
As you may or may not be aware (and if you are, we really must question your choice in hobbies), butterfly poop bears a striking resemblance to butter.
Efrainstochter / pixabay
I Can't Believe It's Not Insect Poop! was somehow rejected during product name meeting.
Europeans living during the early Middle Ages took some time away from catching the plague to notice this, and thus the name boterschijte was born, later to be replaced by botervlieg (butterfly). Regrettably, the trend of naming creatures after what their poop looks like did not catch on. Otherwise, the world would be a much more entertaining place.
5The Grand Tetons -- "Big Tit Mountain"
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Imagine you're an explorer. You're taming the vast wilderness of Wyoming, armed with little more than your wits and a native guide to prevent you from eating the wrong berries and scream-shitting your liver out. One day, you're welcomed by this magnificent sight:
You are at once humbled by the newfound mountainous landscape's majesty and thoughts of, "Oh man, now I have to get around that thing?" But you must quickly pull yourself together, because as an explorer, it's your duty to name the things you find (the fact that all of these things already have names is of no concern to you, a white man). So what do you name them?
If you're John Colter, the first white dude to see the Teton Range, you hand that duty off to French-Canadian trappers, who named them the "Grand Tetons." And the name stuck; today, Grand Teton is the crown jewel of the Teton Range, which is in turn the crown jewel of Grand Teton National Park. And the name literally means "big titties."
WikiImages / pixabay
"Look, we didn't have internet porn then, OK?" -- John Colter
The Silly Origin:
Well, to put it politely, teton means "breast." To put it less politely, Grand Teton is "Big Tit." We can only assume that this has resulted in scores of utterly disappointing Google Image searches by native French speakers throughout the years.
Charles Marion Russell
Lewis and Clark damn near turned back once they realized Colter was being figurative about what awaited them.
And the thing is, this is far from an isolated incident. You see, wilderness exploring was typically done by men, and these men would be away from civilization (read: women) for months or years at a time. And there was no internet porn, or even dirty magazines, for them to look at, so after a while, every vaguely roundish mound began to look like boobs. For example, there are at least seven geological formations named Mollie's Nipple in the United States, most of them in Utah (which, for some reason, is entirely unsurprising).
Aliens exist, but they only got this far before retreating to their ship's sleep area with a pile of tissues.
It's unclear whether the Mollie in question was the wife of early pioneer John Kitchen or an archaic slang term for a prostitute, but one thing's for certain: Exploring was a lonely, lonely business.