We don't say this much today, but the word dew has been around for a while as a euphemism for booze. As far back as the sixteenth century, people were using Bacchus dewe to refer to wine and chemistry textbooks were using Dew of Vitriol for alcohol. In the nineteenth century, it became a thing to make moonshine in the Appalachian back-country, and they called this mountain dew. Fast forward to the 1930s, when brothers Ally and Barney Harman set up a distillery in Knoxville, Tennessee. They had just moved from Georgia and nobody was selling their favorite mixer, so they got creative with the ingredients they had. Eventually, they settled on a combination of carbonated lemon-lime juice and liquor that they called mountain dew from that slang term for moonshine. Sensing the potential, they made a non-alcohol version, which was picked up by PepsiCo and rebranded into the beverage we know today.
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.