Why We Say: #33–“V”
This month we explore vaccinations, vagabonds, and villains.
Cows are the hero in this exploration of vaccinations. Way back when, smallpox was a dreaded disease that disfigured and could be fatal. Interestingly enough, doctors, particularly Dr. Jenner, noticed cows suffered only a mild case of the pox. Someone decided, “You know, by taking a bit of blood from a cow infected with the virus and injecting it into a person, that would probably give that person just a mild case of cowpox.” And because there must have been another astute doctor on this way back when research time, the additional reply might have been:
“Yeah–so if a person gets cowpox, he wouldn’t get smallpox, right? All we need is a volunteer.”
Did they found a willing volunteer or did they do a best Two out of three round of rock-paper-scissors?
By the way the “vacca” in vaccination means cow in Spanish. Consider mooing your thanks to a cow for their contribution to medical science.
Before permanent theaters were established in Shakespeare’s time, actors traveled the countryside performing wherever they could. Taking the cue from the Latin “vagaries” meaning “to wander,” these wanderers became known as vagabonds. Eventually the term attached itself to anyone without a fixed home.
Oh those evil people that cause our heroes so many problems: Snidely Whiplash, the Joker, Loki, just to drop a couple of names. Yet, originally there was no evil in the word; in fact, the Latin “villanus” means one who lives on a villa, which was often a farm. A villain was applied to one who worked on a villa or farm. And because these workers were usually poor or of low birth, the wealthy thought these villains to be evil (naturally, right?).
Maybe one villain test could be if the bad guy knows how to milk a cow–wait, Loki wears cow horns. Maybe there is something to this after all.
Now, let’s just hope a vagabond villain doesn’t release small pox into a crowd. Although that would make for a great thriller! 😁
haha—that’s your next novel plot!😉
This stuff is such fun! And to think, if we mention someone living in a villa today the assumption is that they’re well off!
Maybe vagabonds are staying at villas in between plays. Hope they get their vaccines if they are on the farm.😉
I think we should give the wealthy cowpox and send them off like villainous vagabonds.
Fascinating and amusing. Thanks! I love etymology.
I knew you would like this post–now you need to get read up on the other 32 🙂
Fascinating, I didn’t know any of these facts but will be using them lots now, with a link to your blog of course!
This word trivia stuff is fascinating. Some of the origins are quite surprising. Thanks for the ping back.