People in finance refer to a mogul as a very rich businessman. People who ski call moguls those little snow-packed bumps you're supposed to shred between. Since these both refer to elevation, they should be etymologically connected, right? Wrong. These are homonyms coming from completely different sources. First, let's take a look at mogul, "the wealthy person". This is a direct borrowing from the Arabic word mughal and meant "Mongol" (as in Genghis Khan). This comes from a Mongol self-appellation, which further came from their word mong, or brave. As the Mogul people lost their first two empires, they settled down in India, where they made obscene amounts of wealth trading the valuables there. But what about the other mogul, the "ski bump"? This came from the German word mugel, meaning "a heap or mound". This came from Middle High German mugel, which referred to smaller things, like "lump" or "clod". Though the etymology on this is scarce, the snow mogul probably derives from Proto-Germanic, based on similar words in other Germanic languages. Anyway, the point of all this is, never judge a (book/bump/businessman, pick one) by its cover.
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.