In the post about how "pudding" used to mean "sausage", the Latin word botulus was discussed, but it wasn't done enough justice. It comes from Proto-Indo-European gwet, a root which meant "a swelling" and described how sausages tend to bulge, but that's not the fun part. You may have noticed that the word sounds like botulism, a condition with swelling in it (thus the connection) and often leading to paralysis. Botulism is caused by the botulinum toxin, also named because of the swelling it causes. However, in 1987, two scientists accidentally discovered that the botulinum toxin softens your face and diminishes wrinkles. When the rights to this were bought by Allergan, they cleverly combined the words botulinum and toxin to make botox, a staple of the cosmetics industry. So, something we inject in ourselves is actually something that is poisonous, and that which is poisonous is actually just a hot dog. Bon Appétit!
Adam Aleksic is a 220-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