Horchata is a broad term for different types of milky plant-based drinks, all of them very tasty and usually served chilled. The structure of the word seems rather odd to an American observer, and that's because it comes from Spanish. Before that, it was definitely part of a local dialect, most likely the Valencian variation of Catalan, as the word orxata, which in turn could possibly come from the Catalan root ordi, meaning "barley", because one type of horchata was made out of barley. Other theories for the derivation of orxata include an Arabic source, but whichever route it did take, the word is thought to trace to Latin hordeum, also "barley". Hordeum is further believed to be from the Proto-Indo-European reconstruction grsdeyom, which meant "bristly" and is connected due to the prickly qualities of grain in general.
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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.