A fiasco is a disaster, and you certainly don't want one of those. Yet a mere four hundred years ago, foreign artisans were working to create perfect fiascos. It all goes back to Italian fiasco, which meant "a glass". However, post-medieval glassblowers were very temperamental individuals, often throwing fits and glasses alike when the latter didn't come out perfectly. Through French and then English, a fiasco became known as a "dramatic failure", particularly in the theatre industry. Today, the word has generalized a bit, as you may surmise. Anyway, Italian fiasco traces to Latin flasco, the direct root of today's term flask (also meaning "a type of bottle"), is surprisingly from Frankish, in the form of flaska and still with the same definition. This is from Proto-Germanic fleh, or "to weave", from Proto-Indo-European plek, also "weave" (this probably had to do with the non-glass construction of early flasks). So next time you accidentally knock a museum's fourteenth-century, ruby-encrusted Venetian goblet valued in the millions, you can at least tell the security guards that you were exercising etymology.
Adam Aleksic is a 221-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