Call me a Gen Z ignoramus, but the only meaning I had ever attached to the word Nickelodeon was to the children's TV channel. Can't really blame me, as 80% of US households have access to it. This channel, much to my surprise, was named after a small type of movie theatre in the early 1900s. For only one nickel, audiences could see all the motion pictures of the day. However, as films got longer and venues grew to accommodate larger audiences, nickelodeons died out, relegated to pop culture references until the company was created in 1977. Now, the first part of the etymology should be obvious: a nickel, as in the 5-cent coin, is what you were charged for entry. We've already covered its origin in a previous post, but the second part, odeon, is a Greek word for "theatre" and comes from an earlier word for "song", oide. That in turn is from aeidein, "to sing", which probably comes from a similar word in Proto-Indo-European.
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