It's been spelled Taekwondo, Taekwon-Do, Tae Kwon Do, and TaeKwon Do, but, essentially, the word for the martial art boils down to three parts in the original Korean: tae, meaning "to kick" or otherwise cause damage with your foot, gwon, meaning "to punch", and do, meaning "the way". Together, this is interpreted as meaning "the way of kicking and punching". Asian etymologies are really hard for me to do, because they combine parts of characters and can't really be traced the way English ones can, so I won't comment further on something I don't know much about. However, let's talk about form. Of all the capitalizations and spellings since the word's introduction in the 1960s, the different capitalizations of taekwondo and Taekwondo are about tied for usages, in both literature and Google searches. The other terms exist but are less frequent.
The word competence was first borrowed into the English language in the 1590s, and then it held several definitions until they died out and gave way to the modern meaning. For a bit, it meant "adequate supply", because that made you competent enough to get by. Briefly, it also held the meaning of "rivalry", but that had more to do with the related word competition, and eventually a new denotation of "ability to be efficient" emerged. This and the first definition hail from Latin competentia, "agreement", under a connection of sufficiency and harmony. Competentia derives from the verb competere, which meant "come together", something that makes sense considering its descendants' meanings. However, it might be a little confusing to discover that competere is also the etymon of competition, ostensibly because competing involves bringing together people to vie for the same prize alongside each other. Competere includes the prefix cum-, meaning "together" (from Proto-Indo-European kom, "next to") and the root petere, or "strive" (from Proto-Indo-European petheti, "fly"). I hope I was competent at explaining that.
Clue as a verb (normally suffixed by in) was only adopted relatively recently, in 1934, but the noun for something which hints at something else has been around since the 1590s. In the olden days, this was spelled clew, a word which still exists today as a term for "hammock cord" and originally meant "ball of thread or yarn". What caused this string-like connection? It all traces to Greek mythology! We can derive the meaning from the tale of the Minotaur, where Ariadne gave a clew of thread to Theseus so he could find his way out of the Labyrinth after killing it- thus the connection. In Middle English, clew could also be spelled clewe, and in Old English it was cleowen or cliewen. In Proto-Germanic, it's reconstructed as deriving from a word sounding like klewo and meaning "ball", and in Proto-Indo-European it was glew, which meant "conglomerate", because things can conglomerate into a balls. It's pretty whimsical that philologists found all this out by examining linguistic clues!
Many Americans might be surprised to learn that the board game Clue goes by the name Cluedo outside of the United States. It all traces to World War II, when inventor Anthony Pratt allegedly thought to make a murder-mystery game during a Nazi bombing in England. In 1944, he filed a patent for this, intending to name the game Murder!, but when it was bought out by the publisher Waddingtons, it was renamed to Cluedo, which is a clever amalgam combining the English word clue with the Latin word ludo, meaning "I play". However, when Parker Brothers brought the game to the United States, they felt that the name was too abstract and clipped it to just Clue, alongside other changes like eliminating some extra rooms. The game's slogan also changed throughout the years, from "The Great Detective Game" at the 1949 launch to "The Great New Sherlock Holmes Game" to "The Parker Brothers Detective Game" and finally "The Classic Detective Game" around the turn of the century.
Leslie Scott was a British game designer born in the then-colony of Tanzania and then brought up in various African countries. She later moved to Oxford and started making a new children's activity based off the concept of stacking wooden blocks, which she debuted in 1983 at the London Toy Fair. This game she called Jenga, and it went on to be an iconic part of our childhoods. But why Jenga? What does that name even mean? It all goes back to Scott's aforementioned upbringing in Africa. She and her siblings used hardwood blocks to stack them as high as they could without falling, and that's the underlying notion behind her game, too. Since Africa inspired her, Scott wanted to use an African word for its name, and she settled on the Swahili word jenga, meaning "to build" or "to construct". When the American version came out, owner Hasbro changed the slogan "the perpetual challenge" to "the ultimate challenge" because they were afraid Americans wouldn't know what perpetual meant, and they wanted to change the name as well, but Scott wouldn't let them and that was that.
The word enthusiasm was first coined in 1603 from the Middle French word enthousiasme, and that came from the Latin term enthusiasmus, all with the same meaning. However, definition begins to change as the word is traced back to Ancient Greek enthousiasmos, which literally meant "possessed by gods". In the context of this phrase, somebody could be so motivated or energetic about something that it's like they were possessed by the gods themselves. The word grew a little weaker in meaning over time, but that's the origin. Since en- is a prefix meaning "in", the root thous has to do with theos, "god", and the rest is a useless suffix, by the definition of enthousiasmos there is literally a "god in" you. En is from a Proto-Indo-European reconstruction with the same intonations and denotations, and theos comes from PIE dhes, which generally had to do with religious words. Usage of the word enthusiasm has been declining since an 1899 peak in literature; maybe godly possessions are declining.
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a junior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.