Dear word lovers,
Have you ever been confused and at the same time intrigued by a word?
If yes, you might find this post interesting. It’s about a word, a fruit, a type of food, a nut and oh much, much more as it eventually turned out while writing this!
To tell you the truth, there are a few Italian and Greek words I wanted to talk to you about (at the moment, 4 or 5) but while I was writing I realised I didn’t want a post of more than 1000 words so I said. I will split it. I will write one single post for each peculiar and amazing word that I want to share.
This idea of telling the story of a word on this blog goes far. I have always loved etymology and have always wondered how, where and with whom to share this penchant I have. What do you do with your etymological concerns? If you have a blog, you write about it but imagine if you don’t. You will try to have an educational and hopefully fun conversation with someone (anyone!). Which translates to… people wondering what the heck it is you do in life.
The word in question today is ANACARDI.
Anacardi is the Italian word for cashew nuts. One of my favourite types of nuts along with walnuts. Oh and maybe almonds too. Yes, you got it. I love nuts. Hm, that could explain a few things…
As a bit of an introduction, as if the above weren’t boring enough, this word, along with the other ones I have in store, has an interesting etymology, meaning and usage in both Italian and Greek. In this “anacardi” case, there’s a somewhat unexpected use of the Latin term in the English language.
So, what’s so special about ANACARDI?
“Anacardi” derives from Greek καρδιά (cardia = heart) due to the shape of the fruit which in fact looks like a small pear. Interestingly enough, while googling to find information about its Latin term, I came across….a mental illness! Yes, there’s a disease called the Anacardium Orientale (Making Nut). I didn’t know if I should be surprised, laugh or feel satisfied with this discovery….
Thing is, in Greece today the word anacardi is definitely not used for cashew nuts. Greeks use the English term! They call them “κάσιους” (kàsious). So what we have here is: Italians using a Greek word, Greeks using an English word and English speakers….using the Latin term for a mental illness!
Ανακάρδιο (anacardio) in Greek is mainly used on a scientific level and it refers to the plant and to the Anacardiaceae family plants! Besides this, I came across a second meaning for anacardio in Greek: Reddish wood for making furniture also called μαονί (maonì) or ακαζού (akazoù), colours used for hair products. And this triggered more research! I wanted to see what I could find for anacardio as a colour or type of wood and this is what I found:
Acagiù (in Greek, akazoù) is the commercial name of a plant which belongs to the Anacardium occidentale family and its fruit.
Though I already knew about acajou as a colour, I had no idea of its association with cashew nuts.
If you google “acajou color”, you will find hair dyes, Luis Vuitton leather bags and wood.
These are the four meanings of acajou as per Wikipedia.
acajou (plural acajous)
- The cashew tree. [From the late 16th century.]
- A cashew nut. [From the late 16th century.]
- The wood from the mahogany tree or other trees from the family Meliaceae.
- A moderate reddish brown that is slightly yellower and stronger than mahogany
- Acajou colour
It would be interesting to know if in other languages is as interesting (confusing) as this!
And before I stop writing (nothing else to add!) I shall remind myself that I still need to dye my hair.
Have a great week .