Random words you didn’t know had origins in African languages

My life has been very busy, but I thought I would squeeze in a little post of educational variety if any of you care. I find it interesting to find various etymologies and I want to be good at other languages besides English. You’d be surprised by some origins used in English alone.

Goober: It comes from the Kikongo word “Nguba” which means peanut.

Tango: You thought that was a Spanish word? Nope! It’s literally the Lingala and Kikongo word for “time”. When the slaves were in Argentina and Uruguay, some of them were from the Congo and remembered some of their musical and dance traditions. Those moments would be addressed as “Kongo ya tango” which means Congo time in those languages.

Safari: It’s not just about a specific kind of tourism or environment. That comes from the Swahili word for “travel”.

Voodoo: That form of magic is an Anglicized version of the Ewe (pronounced Ye-we, a language spoken in Togo, Benin, and some parts of Ghana) word Vodo which means “spirit” or “ghost”.

Okra: That food comes from the Igbo word Okuru.

Jenga: I’m sure you all have played that game with the wooden blocks at some point, right? The name of the game comes from “Kujenga” which means “to build” in Swahili. I legitimately didn’t know that until weeks ago!

See, I don’t always have angry posts as of recently.

8 thoughts on “Random words you didn’t know had origins in African languages

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