Posted in Book Talk, Chatty

Word Origins: this is Jeopardy!

Today’s word origin post comes after seeing that Alex Trebek, the quintessential host of Jeopardy!, has a book out! For me and many others, he’s a wholesome delight who’s been around for many years. Representing all corners of knowledge, it really sucked to hear he’s been diagnosed with severe pancreatic cancer. It sucks a little less to see that he has a book out, and I can learn more about him than just in his role as host. It also made me think about how weird the word jeopardy is, and what it actually means. I would guess something related to knowledge or facts, since the show by that title is a quiz show of all kinds of information. But then there’s also the phrase “double jeopardy” in law, meaning you cannot be tried for the same crime twice. How do they connect??

Origins of jeopardy

When did it first get used?
late 1300s, but variations and very similar forms have been used since the tenth century!!

What does it mean?
1. a danger or risk
2. a cunning plan
3. a lost game, or a game with even chances

What did it come from?
This stems from old French jeu partijeu meaning a game, and parti meaning divided. So in terms of Jeopardy! the quiz game show, it seems that the intent is to show it’s a game where anyone can succeed. Luck is not required because it’s all based on your own knowledge and what you know. I’m not sure that makes perfect sense, but I’ll let it go.

As far as the legal sense, where you cannot be tried for the same crime twice, that seems to link more to the sense of a risk or danger. Honestly, it seems weird that these meanings are in the same word. At the very least, I’m pretty clear on which kind of double jeopardy I would rather be dealing with!

Have you ever shouted out the answers to Jeopardy and wondered why it was named such?

Author:

Reader, traveler, photographer, and always looking to learn!

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