Almost everybody thinks that the swastika used to be a Tibetan peace symbol, but let's go in depth. While we're not even completely sure where the symbol comes from, the word the Nazis borrowed that describes the symbol is definitely from Sanskrit svastikas, which meant "being fortunate" (the irony only gets worse). Obviously this definition is one of the reasons Hitler picked the design. Other reasons include recent popular excavations by archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann and the Aryan identity associated with the emblem. Anyway, svastikas is a portmanteau of the word su, which meant "good", the root ati, which meant "to be", and the suffix ka, which carried many meanings like "soul" but in this case is just a diminutive. Since ati and ka are just modifiers, the only important remaining trace to do is the link between su and the Proto-Indo-European reconstruction esu, which meant "good". A lot has changed in the connotation of the word since then, that's all I'm saying.
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.