Calamari, far from the scrumptious seafood snack, has origins in writing utensils. We borrowed the word in the mid sixteenth century from the Italians, many of whom lived close to the sea and ate the morsel, and they borrowed it from Latin calamarius, a word that meant “pertaining to a pen”. This etymology exists because not only were squids oblong like pens back then (which were very different from our ball-point or fountain variations, of course), but they held ink inside, also not unlike those aforementioned pens. Calamarius is from calamus, which later meant “pen” and earlier meant “reed”, a component of some early writing utensils. Calamus derives from Greek kalamos, also "reed", which can be reconstructed to the Proto-Indo-European zero-grade klhmos, a use-all word for basically anything that had a passing resemblence to grass.
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