To be savvy is to be wise or intelligent, but that's such a strange and non-Germanic word. Where does it come from? The origin is surprisingly interesting: it is most likely from the French question savez-vous?, which literally means "do you know?". Alternately, it could be from Spanish sabe?, with the same translation. Somebody savvy would be somebody who knows- therefore the word. Either way, this goes back to the Latin root sapere, "to be wise". In Proto-Italic, wisdom had a lot to do with discerning, so as sapio, it meant "discern", however you discern tastes, so before that it meant "taste". This is why, as the Proto-Indo-European root sep, the word also meant "taste". Usage of the word savvy has been exponentially increasing since 1980, and, with that, I can conclude that we now know the way.
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.