The word hazard has a curious moral origin. Turns out that the farthest the word can be traced is to the Arabic term al-zhar (or az-zhar), which translated as "the dice". As Arabic dice games spread throughout the European continent, so did the word, and soon all those medieval people were playing al-zhar games. By the time the word migrated across all of Europe, it got twisted around, so it landed in Spain as azar. Here the word split into several definitions. One meant the game that was played, one referred to the random results of a dice throw, one referenced the positive, "lucky" results of a dice throw, and one the "unlucky" or "risky" dice throw. Naturally, all these conflicting definitions were confusing, so the Spanish kept the middle two, dropped the first word, and gave the last one to the French, who picked it up as hasard (those silly French! They add an h- and a -d and still can't make heads nor tails of their words). This originally pertained to unlucky dice throws, then was metaphorically extended to unlucky risks in life, then the latter was dropped, leaving only a "risky life decision". This was not much of a change as hasard became the English word hazard. Hazard was originally just a noun, but later it became a verb as well. Maybe someday we'll drop the noun, If I were to hazard a guess...
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