I'm a nerd. I'm in fact such a big nerd that I tend to look up word origins in my spare time because I'm fascinated by our language. The odder the origin, the better. I've got a collection of random information in my brain that makes me an awesome Trivial Pursuit partner, but is completely useless when it comes to real world application. Like say, job applications.
In any case, I thought I'd share some of this random crap with you in the form of the new acronym-ific series. I give you - Word Origins from Left Field - that's right, the WOLF. Er... ignore the fact that the "from" doesn't fit.
So the other day I referred to someone as my chum. Yeah, it's not a word that gets tossed out there a lot, but I enjoy my oddness and kind of revel in my vocabulary. After that had slipped out, my random brain said, "Hey, wait a minute - isn't that also what you call...."
And yes, it is. So here my friends are two standard definitions of chum:
1. A close friend
2. Chopped fish, fish fluids, and other material thrown overboard as angling bait
Assuming that you would never substitute one for the other, I did a little digging.
The word chum as used in the first instance popped up in the 17th century, as slang for a roommate. It's a clipped form of "chamber mate."
The origin of the second instance (use of dead small fish and fish parts to attract larger fish) is most likely from the use of a specific type of Pacific Northwest salmon called chum Salmon.
But the two are not related at all, alas. I was so hoping for some great story about someone chopping up their roommate and making them sleep with the fishes.