When the word seersucker was first used in a 1722 historical magazine, it was spelled sea sucker, and other spellings around the time included seesucker, sirsaka, and searsucker. These forms all hint at the word's origin from Hindi sirsakkar, and they looked so weird because people didn't know how to properly transliterate it. Sirsakkar comes from the Persian phrase sir o sekar, which meant "milk and sugar", apparently a reference to the alternating stripes of the textile. Sir, which I recognize as being related to the Serbian word for "cheese" (also sir), comes from the Proto-Indo-European root suhros, meaning "salty" or "bitter". Meanwhile, sekar, which is related to pretty much every European word for "sugar" that you can think of, comes from the Proto-Indo-European reconstruction karkeh, meaning "gravel".
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.