Contrary to popular belief, the word crap has nothing to do with the fact that Thomas Crapper helped invent the flush toilet. It's actually a very old word that comes from Latin! Crap wasn't used as a noun until 1898, when good ol' anthimeria effect changed the decades-older verb into a new form. Crap underwent a plethora of alterations in Middle English, taking the forms of crappe, crappen, crappys, and craps before finally settling on the modern variation. Before that, in Middle French, it was either crappe or chaffin, as a word meaning "chaff", the inedible protective casings of grain. The semantic connection here is both it and human excrement is discarded, unwanted, and cast off. This comes from Latin crappa (note the p/f confusion that's endemic to basically all languages), with the same meaning. The origin of crappa is unknown, but it might derive from Proto-Indo-European gep, meaning "mouth" (a connection of eating to grain). Curiously, the word crap was not introduced to America until World War I, when soldiers picked up the fad of saying it from British soldiers.
Something nascent is new but on the ascent; something budding with potential. Despite the "rising" connection and visible similarity to the word ascent, it's not related. This derives from the Latin word nascentem, which also sort of meant "rising in prominence" in addition to another definition of "immature". In verb form, this was nascere, a word which spawned a myriad of terms having even vaguely something to do with birth, including natal, innate, renaissance, nature, nation, and cognate. In Old Latin, nascere was gnascere (the g was dropped as it grew silent). Reconstructing it further back to Proto-Italic, the word was gnaskor, from Proto-Indo-European genh, at that point meaning "to give birth". Not too much semantic change there, but an interesting backstory nonetheless. Ironically, the word nascent has proved quite nascent; it has presently risen to its greatest usage ever.
In 1561, Jean Nicot, the French ambassador to Portugal, came back from Lisbon with a bunch of exotic New World plants, specifically tobacco. This was insanely popular in the royal court and all of France in general, and the country quickly rose to be one of the world's largest consumers of the plant. People were so enamored with tobacco that they named the alkaloid compund nicotine after Nicot (despite André Thevet, a French missionary, claiming that he introduced it first), who enthusiastically propagated its supposed medicinal benefits. -Ine is a traditional suffix for naming chemical compounds, so let's dispense with that. Nicot is a diminutive of the name Nicholas, which comes from Latin Nicolaus. This further derives from Ancient Greek Nikolaos, which can be translated into "victory of the people". The roots here are Nike, meaning "victory" (and often referring to the goddess of victory; assumed PIE origin), and laos, meaning "people" (from PIE lehwos, alson "people".
The word peach comes from the Old French word pesche, which meant "peach tree" as well as "peach". In an later form of Latin, this was pesca, and in the classical form, it was persica. Persica was part of the phrase malum persicum, meaning "Persian apple" and a loan from Greek Persikon malon. Yes, a peach was considered an exotic type of apple. Malon means "apple", and, obviously Persikon means Persian. This may be conjugated to Persis, which meant plain ol' "Persia" and is the source of our current word for "Persia" as well. Persis comes Old Persian parsa, their self-apellation which likely derives from the Median language and, by extent, Indo-Iranian and Proto-Indo-European. Peachy as an adjective has been around since the 1590s but it didn't mean "neat" or "attractive" until 1900. Peachy keen, the ultimate 50s phrase, was coined in 1951. Usages of all these phrases are rising after recent falls in popularity (peach peaked in the mid-1910s)
When the word felon entered English in the 1200s, it didn't have the fancy definition of "someone sentenced to more than one year in prison or death" like it does today. Rather, it carried the much simpler and more extreme meaning of "evil-doer", sometimes even applicable to Satan himself. This comes from Old French felon, with essentially the same meaning but also connotations of "traitor". According to one theory, Felon is a derivative of Latin fellare, which means "to suck". How this change happened is quite interesting: because people regarded traitors and the Devil so poorly, the word was applied in a pejorative manner, implying that people like that suck a certain male appendage. Yes. the word felon is etymologically connected to fellatio. Beyond that, fellare is reconstructed as having come from the Proto-Indo-European word dhe, which meant "to suck" but in a much more wholesome way.
I think you'll appreciate the etymology of the word appreciate! It was borrowed in the 1650s from the Latin word appretiatus, which actually referred more to the increasing value of money definition than to the respectful emotion towards someone else. Here we can see the prefix ap-, which is just an alternate way of writing ad-, an affix denoting a movement "towards" and coming from Proto-Indo-European ad, meaning "to" or "near". The root of the word here is pretium, which meant "price" (this makes sense considering the overall meaning). Pretium may be reconstructed to the Proto-Indo-European root per, meaning "to traffic". So, if we go as far back as we can, appreciate means "near traffic". A bit more reasonably, in only the near past, it meant "towards price". It wasn't until the 1830s that the word gained the emotional definition, and this really shows in the usage over time, as it spiked dramatically in that period.
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior 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.