Laconic has one of the sassiest etymologies out there! Today a term meaning "concise", the word was borrowed in the 1580s from Ancient Greek Lakonikos, a toponym for a region of the Peloponnese peninsula. What's so special about this area? It was ruled by the Spartans, who were famous for their short replies. One famous and often-quoted example of this is when Phillip II of Macedonia asked whether he should come to Sparta as a friend or an enemy. They sent back just the word "neither". Ticked off at the lack of respect, he replied that if he does come to Laconia, he will kill everybody there and burn everything to the ground. The Spartans replied with another single word: "if". The Macedonians never tried to come. That level of toughness and terseness can't be encompassed by just one example, but you get the idea why the connection to laconic exists. The stem of Lakonikos is Lakon, the name for the people of Laconia, and that's a word that's been around forever, tracing to a Mediterranean Pre-Greek language.
Adam Aleksic is a 220-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 College in the fall.
The Etymology Nerd