Somebody suggested to me today that the word shampoo means "fake excrement". Sham poo. Well, that was definitely wrong. When the word shampoo was first brought to England in the 1760s by merchants who picked it up from Hindi champo, it meant "massage". This, however, was a special type of Hindu massage where they would slather your body in foam first, and gradually the "foam" meaning emerged to prevail, mainly due to Victorian hesitation about embracing those seemingly promiscuous massages. Anyway, champo comes from capo, which meant "to press"- an obvious connection, because you need to press on the back in a massage. This has unconfirmed and hypothesized origins, but the main theory is that it comes from the old Sanskrit term capayati, which meant something like "knead". If this is correct, this would further derive from the Old Indo-Aryan root canp, with about the same definition.
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.