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Have you ever wondered why a bar is called a “bar”? Have you been convinced that “dope” comes from the idea of acting “dopey,” and do you feel like being proven semi-wrong? Take a look at the following slang word origins and you might indeed learn a thing or two, like that “dope” actually comes from sauce…
Yes, “dope” comes from “doop,” the Dutch word for sauce, but the progression is actually a rather logical one. New York City, which was once a Dutch colony, picked up some words from the colonists, and that one ended up lasting through the 1800’s, when it referred to gravy, sauce, syrups, and medicines. People eventually started using the word mainly to refer to medicines, primarily for ones that made people feel loopy or dazed…or dopey. From there, “dope” became slang for the dark molasses form of opium smoked in dens, which has since served as label for marijuana and, currently, simply for things that are cool.
Today, a “speakeasy” is simply a private lounge. New York City bars, for instance, use the term liberally—if their bar’s entrance is sort of hidden, the owners go ahead and give themselves the Prohibition era title. The term came up because unlicensed bars back then seriously had to stay hidden, so patrons had to “speak easy” when referring to the location, so the wrong people wouldn’t hear about it, and they’d have to maintain their relatively soft voices inside, so as not to alert the police.
Speaking of bars, colonial America’s were not what we’re used to patronizing today. Back then, establishments that sold alcohol did it only in a specific corner, sectioned off by a barrier from the rest of the tavern. Take the first syllable from “barrier” and see what you get…
In the late 1800’s, a form of poker originated known as “Jacks or Better.” In this game, the opening bettor had to have at least a pair of jacks in his hand to begin the first round of betting. Furthermore, the winner of each hand needed at least three-of-a-kind to win the pot, otherwise every player had to re-ante for new cards. Since this didn’t happen all too frequently, the pots could get pretty big, like the windfalls people refer to today as “jackpots.”
Initially, the Caribbean word “barbacoa” stood for wooden rack-like structures built with sticks. Such frames were first used for shelters, but the Taino Indians in the Caribbean began smoking their fish on these wooden racks. Spanish explorers later took this word back to Spain, where they used it the way the Taino did…until they started referring to the food itself that way. As words do, it migrated over to the English language, where it became “barbeque” because it was easier for English speakers to pronounce. The word’s definition has since expanded to the entire gathering in which meat is cooked “BBQ” style.