The word amygdala was first used in a 1749 medical dictionary, and the word almond was borrowed from Old French alemonde circa 1300. The former is the part of the brain dealing with fear, the latter is a nut, and there doesn't seem to be an obvious connection between the two at first blush. However, the etymologies of both terms take us back to the same root: Latin amygdalum, which meant "almond"! The word for the brain nucleus was taken directly amygdalum because doctors thought that it resembles the shape of an almond, and the word for the foodstuff underwent some spelling variations in Vulgar Latin that changed it so drastically from its etymon. Going further back in time, amygdalum comes from Ancient Greek amygdale, which has an unknown etymology but is possibly Semitic or something Pre-Greek. There was also a third word deriving from amygdalum that mostly died out since its sixteenth-century inception: amygdales, which meant "tonsils", because they're sort of almond-shaped too.
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.