Everybody loves trophies. They're like the opposite of mortgages (see below). However, the word's history is simply scintillating. Trophy comes from the ancient Greek trepein, which meant "to turn". Later, as the Greeks started fighting among themselves and the Persians, there were a lot of military defeats on both sides, and a word was needed for specific occasions. Thus tropos became used, as a "turning" of the battle, where one side gains an advantage. Then the Romans, who steal everything from the Greeks anyway, stole tropos, "turned" it into trophæum, meaning a "sign of victory" but in a strategic sense, still a far cry from the current usage. Later, in the late fifteenth century, the French mangled both the word and the definition into trophée, a "spoil of war". This jumped the Channel over into English only ten years after the French got it, though its current meaning of " an award" was only used since the mid-1600s.
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.