The etymology of jeopardy has surprising and whimsical origins. Since the word means "danger or risk", it, like hazard, originates in gambling, where it comes from the French phrase jeu parti, which meant "a fair game", or more correctly, "a divided game", because a game that's equally divided is fair. Since there is a surprising amount of risk in a 50-50 game, it came to be that "dangers" were associated with anything you didn't have a slight advantage in. Anyway, the words jeu and parte respectively came from the Latin words iocus ("joke", since many games aren't more than that) and partitus ("divided"). Iocus derives from Proto-Italic joko, from Proto-Indo-European yek, "speaking" or "word". Partitus came from the Latin word pars, meaning "part", and that may or may not come from the Proto-Indo-European word meaning "exchange", per. Whatever the case, jeopardy, though deriving from a word with the implications of "risky game", traces all the way back to words which together mean "speaking part", and many contestants on the show Jeopardy! play a "speaking part". Etymology is so circular sometimes!
Adam Aleksic is a 220-month-old, 2800-ounce high school senior with disturbing interests in etymology, vexillology, geography, board games, limericks, and law. Adam will be studying linguistics at Harvard College in the fall.
The Etymology Nerd