The word kudos emerged in university slang around the turn of the nineteenth century with the definition "glory or fame". For a while, the word was being spelled kudo because of people mistakenly believing that the s made it plural, but that got fully sorted out by the mid-1900s. It comes directly from Ancient Greek kydos, which meant pretty much the same thing but more in a context of battle than one of scholastic competitions. This word wasn't used by regular everyday Greeks, but was more of a poetic term found only in works like The Odyssey and The Iliad. Ultimately, it literally meant "that which is heard of" and derives from the Proto-Indo-European root keu, meaning "to perceive" (this also makes up words like caution, scavange, sheen, and show). According to Google Ngram Viewer, literary usage of kudos peaked in 2011.
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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.