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. One school argues for the Arabic term yasara, he played at dice, while another argues 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. 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, Etymonline.com, Interesting English Borrowed Words & the OED.
I write for teens & tweens, bake bread, play music, and ponder the wonder of words in a foggy little town on California's central coast.
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