This is sweet stuff. Just looking at the word candy with my semi-trained but frequently-accurate eye, I imagined another word coming to us from French, or perhaps Germanic. But just when I thought I knew it all, everything changed. Candy is an abbreviation of sugar-candy, which used to be the only correct spelling. This is a calque on French sucre candi, from which we get just candi (which kinda meant "crystallized", as in "crystallized sugar"). Here we get exotic: it's from Arabic qandi or qandiyy, "candied", which is a conjugation of qand, describing a special kind of Arabic candy made of cane sugar. Here the etymological train of thought splits; all we know for sure is that the trail leads further east, into India. Qand either derives from Sanskrit khanda, with the same meaning (which would be from khand, "break apart") or goes even further back and to another language family, appearing in Proto-Dravidian kantu, also "candy". If you go back and look at the path for sugar, it too traveled from the east and possibly another language family... there's more to that sugar-candy than meets the eye.
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 University in the fall.
The Etymology Nerd