Posted in Chatty

Word Origins: when a botanist has a giggle

Hey y’all! It’s been a while since I did one of these, but I was poking around on an etymology site again and was curious to see that orchid was listed as the top trending word. I have no idea why, but I figured, why not see what orchids are all about? Basically all I know is that it’s a big fancy flower that people seem to think is hard to take care of but then also say “just put an ice cube in it once a week” so I’m not sure what to think.

Origins of “orchid”

When did it first get used?

What does it mean?
The Latin name for a plant family, technically called Orchideæ or Orchidaceæ, the latter of which sounds like a dope ass rogue name I would use for a poisoner.

What did it come from?
As John Lindley was publishing the third edition of School Botany, he decided to give the schoolchildren something sneaky to giggle about — and maybe himself, as well. And so he named his favorite group of plants Orchid. The word comes from Greek orkhis, which is a very crucial and respectable word. What does it mean? Well…

teeheeheeheehee just imagine a group of tittering school children here! At the very least, imagine me as a tittering school child. Or adult. Either way.

So Orchid just means testicle, almost literally as a translation from Greek and the related Latin. Go figure a dude would see a plant and think “that looks familiar, I know just what to call it!” Evidently he was focusing more on the root than the flower though. Based on the photo above, I’d say the flowers look more vaginal / labial than testicular.

Orchid roots, that look like testicles, apparently?

I was curious after learning this what orchids mean in the language of flowers. I suppose it’s no surprise that they’re typically a sign of fertility! And one major type of orchid is named after a temple (Paphos) where Aphrodite, the famed beautiful goddess of love, was worshiped.

So my final question: are orchids hard to take care of?

So I still don’t really know, but I’d say if I have to buy a hygrometer for my plants, it’s not a simple thing to tend to. PASS. I’ll stick with my bromeliad that I’ve watered five times in a year and is somehow thriving. You do you, bromeliad!


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

3 thoughts on “Word Origins: when a botanist has a giggle

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