The word bassoon was first recorded in English in a 1728 dictionary and became widely used throughout the late eighteenth century. The word was taken from French basson, which in turn came in the seventeenth century from Italian bassone. This comes from the word basso, meaning "bass", with the augmentative suffix -one. Going further back, basso traces to the Medieval Latin adjective bassus, meaning "low", and there are several theories regarding the ultimate origin, all of them quite interesting (it might be Celtic, or Oscan, or Greek, but nobody is quite sure). Interestingly, the Italian word for bassoon is not bassone anymore but fagotto, meaning "bundle of sticks", because bassoons can be disassembled into several parts for carrying. This is related to the similar-sounding homophobic slur in English and the word fascist, both of which were associated with bundles of sticks.
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.