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"Puzzle" Etymology

The Origins of the word "Puzzle" by G. Sarcone
"Names, once they are in common use, quickly become mere sounds, their etymology being buried, like so many of the earth's marvels, beneath the dust of habit"
Salman Rushdie
American Heritage Dictionary
Fun with words

  It might seem curious that most currently used words employed in the world of puzzling find their origins in Old French! The word Puzzle comes from pusle “bewilder, confound” which is a frequentive of the obsolete verb pose (from Medieval French aposer) in sense of “perplex”. The meaning of the word as “a toy contrived to test one’s ingenuity” is relatively recent (within mid-19th century).
  Metagrobolize first appeared in English texts in the mid-17th century. You won’t find the root of this term in either a scientific or Greek dictionary as it is originated in France several centuries ago and was used in contexts which were intended to amuse. Actually, metagrobolize first appeared as part of a translation of the works of the French satirist François Rabelais. Rabelais’s version of the term (métagaboulizer) was a now-obsolete French verb that meant “to puzzle, mystify”. Recently, the noun Metagrobologist has been adopted by a number of puzzlers as a term for “one who does and makes puzzles”.
  But what would be the correct scientific noun for “puzzle addict”? In Old Greek there are 2 terms indicating the action of puzzling: ainigma from the Greek verb ainissomai “talking with insinuations or with codes, making wordplay...” and grîphos “challenging question, enigma”. The equivalent Latin word of grîphos is scirpus (nodum in scirpo quaerere means “to find problems where actually there aren’t any”). Curiously, the Vatican has coined a “new” Latin word for brainteasers: subverticula. O.K., now that you are perfectly updated on the terminology in use... if someone should call you a GRIPHOMANIAC, don’t lose your cool, griphomania is a pleasant medical condition inducing an insatiable desire to make and solve puzzles!

From the Indo-Europeans right up until today

the origin of puzzle

The word "Puzzle" in many different languages

puzzle in many languages


© 1992-2013 G. Sarcone,
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