Monday, May 2, 2016

Word of the Week - Kiwi

Last week after hearing someone from New Zealand refer to themselves as a Kiwi, my hubby got curious as to where that word came from. So I obligingly looked it up. ;-)

Apparently the first thing to earn the name was the bird native to New Zealand. It's an imitative word, so imagine these little, flightless birds saying, "ki-wi. Ki-wi." (Which makes total sense.) It had been a Maori word for who knows how long, adopted into English in 1835.

During Word War I, New Zealand soldiers began to be called kiwis, and from there it branched out to include all NZers.

Now, in America we associate kiwi with a very delicious little fruit. ;-) This is very new! They began to be imported to the US from NZ in 1966, and so we called them "kiwi fruit" because "kiwi" described where they came from. In New Zealand, they obviously don't call them that--they call them, instead, "Chinese gooseberries." (That right there rates a big ol' "REALLY? Who knew?") (UPDATE--I've heard from a few New Zealanders who say they do call the fruit kiwi. So I'm going to assume that it was once called Chinese gooseberry, but not anymore. Or else Etymonline is lying to me.) ;-)

Happy Monday, everyone!


  1. Ha ha words and thier history are great fun! But try this on for confusing.....Scotland is named after a tribe called the Scotti who came over from Ireland in the fifth century. Yet before about the ninth century, the country would not have been called Scotland, but consisted of three of four seperate Kingdoms. The Romans called it Caledonia, modern historians might say Pictland, or Alba....

    And then there's England, which is named after the Angles, one of several Germanic tribes that started coming over about the same time as the Picts and conquered much of what had been Roman Britannia.
    So again, before about the ninth century, there was not really an such place as 'England'.

    Then to make matters more complicated, Britain did not really exist as a single political entity before the 1700s. Its acceptable to refer to the inhabitants of the land as British in the geographical sense before that - but in the political sense, not so.

    Of course, today, refering to 'British and Scottish' people might be a source of annoyance for some. Scotland is part of Britain and Scottish people are British. British is not a synonym for 'English- Britain consists of three countries- England, Scotland and Wales, and all the outlying islands.

    I could go into the history of the name 'Wales' but that might be too confusing.....

    1. Thanks Middleville Girl ,that was interesting as well!!

    2. Thanks Middleville Girl ,that was interesting as well!!