If you speak French, this one won't be surprising, but it is nevertheless interesting: the word paiper-mâché means "chewed up paper"! The papier part is from Old French papier, which also gave us the English noun paper. That comes from Latin papyrus, which obviously described the thick material differing from modern paper, and papyrus ultimately has an unknown origin but is thought to be Egyptian. I mentioned in a recent blog post how a circumflex over a French vowel indicates the disappearance of the letter s, and that's what happened with mâché, which comes from the Latin verb masticare, meaning "to chew" (this is also where we get the English word masticate), in turn from Ancient Greek mastikhan, "to gnash the teeth" and Proto-Indo-European mendh, meaning "to chew".
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.