Though these days the term wordmonger refers to "a writer or speaker who uses language pretentiously or carelessly," please join me in proposing a new meaning. A fishmonger appreciates and promotes fish, therefore, a wordmonger does the same for words.

Thursday, May 31, 2012



This week’s etymology is pleasingly contentious.

Hazard came into English about 1300 from the Old French word, hasard or hasart, a game of chance played with dice. Most etymologists agree that the French word stems from the Spanish word, azar, an unfortunate card or throw at dice.

From there, some etymologists see no source. Others argue for the Arabic term yasara, he played at dice, while others argue for azahr or al-zahr, meaning, the die.  

By the mid-1500s the English word hazard shed its specific connection to games of chance & became generalized to refer to any chance of loss, harm, or risk.

What I find fascinating is that by most accounts, the word entered English due to the Crusades. Soldiers don’t spend all their time lopping off heads; they have a little down time to learn the local customs & play the local games, and throwing dice was one of the games Crusaders learned during their travels. Isn’t it wickedly ironic that games of chance, & eventually a word referring to risk & chance of loss was born of the recreational time of Christian soldiers heading to the Holy Land with violent intent? That’s not just irony, that’s exponential irony.

Good followers, what might you have to say about irony, Crusaders, the Holy Land, and risk?

My thanks go out to this week’s sources,,   Interesting English Borrowed Words & the OED.


  1. Well, crap games sure are a hazard--so now it all makes sense!

  2. Hey Anne,
    I'm with you, though bunches of folks seem to perceive more pleasure than hazard in such things. Thanks for dropping by once again.