We got our word for linguine first introduced into the United States in 1948, surprisingly late, but because of pasta's popularity, it kicked off quickly. Obviously, before that it was Italian, where linguine was also a renowned dish. But before that, the word came from linguina, which meant "little tongue". That's right; the pasta was so named because each spaghetti looked like a little tongue. You can kind of see a similarity, I suppose. But the "tongue" connection in linguina goes even further. -Ina is a suffix denoting something small, so lingua by itself means "tongue". At this point, you may be noticing a connection, and, yes, it is the root of other terms, like language, lingua franca, and even linguistics, for they all share that common root of "tongue". In an older version of Latin, lingua was spelled dingua, which is from Proto-Italic denywa, which is from Proto-Indo-European dnghu, also "tongue", also the etymon of Germanic tongue. So, when your tongue touches linguine during your next pasta night, appreciate the irony.
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