The Silly Origin:
Well, hashishiyyin referred specifically to a Crusades-era caste of Persian warriors who would get all hopped up on hashish before running out to eliminate their enemies' leaders, in a scene straight out of a bullshit after-school special where the football team all gets high after practice and then flips out and murders the rival team's coach.
Topkapi Palace Museum
The makers of Reefer Madness were right all along -- they simply picked on the wrong time period.
Fast-forward to the early 16th Century. The Crusades were over, European colonialism was on the rise, and those Europeans were only too happy to share stories about how awesome the Crusades were. Much like that one friend of yours who can't seem to say Aziz Ansari's name without sounding as if they're having a stroke, white people gradually fucked up the pronunciation of hashishiyyin while recalling the terrifying Persian warriors, and gave the world "assassin."
"Porcelain" Means "Pig Vagina"
Thomas_G / pixabay
When Marco Polo lugged a small porcelain vase all the way from China to Europe in the late 13th Century, it marked the beginning of the West's long love affair with the ceramic material. Valued for its strength and fine texture, and coveted for its translucent beauty, we've since used it for everything from pots to piss in to strengthening our kitchen floors to sculpting the faces of terrifying dolls sold exclusively to your grandmother.
crisalx0 / pixabay
The leading cause of insomnia in grandchildren.
The Silly Origin:
While the process of making porcelain comes from China, the word "porcelain" originated in Italy, where the term porcellana was used to refer to cowrie shells, which sort of look like porcelain. Apart from being the fashion accessory of choice of every barista headed out to Coachella, cowrie shells were historically used as currency throughout Asia and Africa. Also, if you sort of turn your head sideways, they begin to look like ... something else. Can you guess what it is?
Bin im Garten / Wiki Commons
Is it ... unemployment?
If you guessed "vaginas," you're close. But we're looking for a more specific answer in this instance, and that specific answer is "pig vaginas."
Alexas_Fotos / pixabay
Here, let Mr. Pig point it out for you.
That's right. Someone in Renaissance-era Italy -- known for its Davids and its Sistine Chapels and its tireless thirst for knowledge -- picked up a cowrie shell one day and said, "Gaw dern, this looks like a pig's vagina." If there's a lesson to be learned here, it's that even the most refined thinkers revert to a goddamned child the very instant they are presented with anything even remotely resembling genitalia.
Jamie Wyman is an author, freelance editor, and High Priestess of the Pajama Cult. Follow her chai-soaked profanity on Twitter, read her fiction and visit her blog at House Pajamazon.
For more wordly wisdom, check out 5 Innocent Phrases With Surprisingly Dark Origins and 7 Ridiculous Origins Of Everyday Words.
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