During November I will be blogging on etymology and the origin of the alphabet
handicap: A plausible but mistaken etymology has it that this word derives from disabled beggars waiting “cap-in-hand,” but in reality handicap was a horseracing term hundreds of years before the euphemism for disability. Bettors held money in their caps as an ante while a neutral arbiter determined how much additional weight the superior horse had to carry, hence, a hand-in-cap race.
Hobson-Jobson, Law of: The tendency to corrupt exotic words to conform to familiar patterns. e.g., “oxycotton” for “oxytocin,” “Old-Timer’s” for “Alzheimers,” and “very close veins,” for “varicose veins.” (See hocus-pocus) British Soldiers in India corrupted as “Hobson-Jobson,” the Arabic cry, Ya Hasan! Ya Husayn! "Oh, Hassan! Oh, Husain!"
hocus-pocus: A jocular incantation, too foolish-sounding even for Vegas magicians. A corruption by disdainful Protestants, following the law of Hobson-Jobson, of the Latin formula, hoc est corpus meum, “This is my body,” spoken by Catholic priests at the moment the sacramental bread and wine is believed to transform into the body and blood of Christ.
Coming November 31, THE RETURN OF THE STOOPID CONTEST!