Tiramisu, that delicious coffee-dipped sponge cake, originated in brothels in Treviso, Italy. It was considered an aphrodisiac by locals, and was served right before sex as a little pick-me-up. That's why the word literally translates to "pick-me-up" in Italian; tira could mean "pick", "pull", or "cheer" in this context, mi was a reflexive pronoun, and su meant up. Tira is a conjugation of the verb tirare, which had a plethora of definitions such as "to pull", "to throw", "to utter", "to draw", and more. This jack-of-all-trades came through Latin from the Proto-Germanic reconstruction terana, meaning "to tear", and that in turn is from Proto-Indo-European der, "to split". Mi never changed much through time, going back to PIE me, with the same meaning. Su derives from Latin subversus, which meant "overthrown" and is composed of the prefix sub-, mainly meaning "under" (from PIE upo) and the root versus, meaning "revolve" (traces to PIE wert, "to turn").
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