People speak an average of 16,000 words every day. It's not often that we take a moment to stop and think about the origin of each of these words the stories behind their creation, and how they came to be a part of our every day life. Below are some of the most interesting word origin stories of the English (and a couple other) language.
If you would like to read more, click on the source under each word.
The latin prefix pen comes from paene, which means almost. So a peninsula is almost an island, the penultimate thing is almost last. I wonder what that means about people named Penelope?
The word dingbat has an incredibly diverse array of meanings and applications. It's not just a funny insult to hurl at your friends.
First, it referred to an alcoholic drink in 1838. Then it evolved to mean something similar to words such as "thingamabob" or "gizmo" a stand in word for something that has no names.
Throughout the next century and a half, dingbat was really all over the map when it came to applications. It was used as one of a broad range of typographical ornaments ( la the typeface Zapf Dingbats by Hermann Zapf), a muffin, a woman who is neither your sister nor mother, a foolish authority figure the plural for male genitalia.
The word took on its current, most accepted definition of "foolish person" as early as 1905, but that application wasn't popularized until the 1970s, when it was used in the U.S. TV show, All in the Family.
Although it was widely popularized by the Warner Brothers character Yosemite Sam (What in tarnation!?!), this word has been floating around since 1784.
Tarnation started out as an American English derivative of "darnation," which was, as you may have already guessed, a milder way of expressing the profanity "damnation."
So where did that t come from?
The "t" in tarnation was influenced by "tarnal," yet another mild 18th century profanity derived from the phrase "by the Eternal," which was used as such: "Joe paid a tarnal high price for his dillydallying."
So, in essence, tarnation is a mash up of words that translate to mean eternal + damnation. Yet, it doesn't exactly seem to be used in that way anymore.
The origins of the word "peculiar" lie in the mid-15th century, when peculiar actually meant belonging exclusively to one person and denoted the concept of private property. As in, John's house is peculiar.
The English word derived its meaning from the Latin word peculiaris, which held a similar meaning.
Peculiaris, in turn, was plucked from the Latin peculium, which implied private property, but literally meant property in cattle. One might consider livestock to be a curious root for a term referring to private property, but in ancient times, cattle were considered the most important form of property, and wealth was measured by the number of cows one owned.
So how did we get from ownership to the meaning we have today?
The current meaning of peculiar (i.e. unusual) arrived in the 17th century. This definition surfaced after the term evolved to mean distinguished, or special in the late 16th century (because, naturally, people blessed with bovine abundance were considered distinguished and special).
The word slang was popularized in the English language throughout the mid-18th century. It originally referred specifically to the lexicon of thieves and sex workers of the time.
The word's origin is largely believed to have been Norwegian, derived from the phrase slengja kjeften, which literally meant to sling the jaw, but which carried the implication to abuse with words.
Its current meaning—informal colloquial speech that is used as a substitute for other terms or concepts in the same vernacular—became common in the early 19th century. The use of "slang" was popularized around the same time as the word slangwhanger, an American English term meaning "one who uses abusive slang" or "a ranting partisan". Sadly enough, slangwhanger is uncommon in our current lexicon, but I vote for a comeback!
There is a common belief that the word slang is actually just short for "shortened language." However, there are no reputable sources to verify this belief, and doesn't necessarily make sense because slang terms aren't always shorter than the language they are replacing. On the contrary, the factors required for colloquialisms to qualify as slang are that they are informal, and they are specific to a particular social group or culture.
Since the 1500s, the word periwinkle has been used as the name of two distinct items: an edible sea snail and a broadleaf evergreen plant—or, in its adjective form, periwinkle refers to the color of the periwinkle flowers.
Interestingly enough, each of the two noun forms comes from a distinct root with disparate—though not entirely unrelated—origins. The name of the plant is a diminutive form of the 12th century English word parvink, which is derived from the Old English word perwince, which is in turn derived from pervinca, the Late Latin word for the periwinkle plant. Pervinca is likely derived from the verb pervincire, which means entwine or bind. More literally, pervincire could be read as thoroughly bound, from per- (thoroughly) and vincire (to bind or fetter). This root presumably refers to the way the creeping plant grows, thickly and carpet-like, across the ground or other surfaces, entwining anything in its path.
What does that have to do with snails, you ask?
Well, the common periwinkle is a marine mollusk native to the northeastern Atlantic Ocean—particularly the European coastline—though they can now be found on North American coastlines as well, perhaps having traveled over while attached to mid-19th Century sea vessels. These hitchhiking gastropods were likely called periwinkles as a cultural variation on their Old English name, pinewincle. With entirely different origins from parvink, pinewincle is comprised of the Old English pine-"—which is derived from the Latin word pina (mussel, originally from the Greek pine)—and wincel, which means spiral shell and comes from the Proto-Germanic prefix winkil- (bend, curve).
While its fascinating that two words implying curling, bending, binding and entwining came from entirely different origins, its not entirely clear why these two nouns converged into a homonym/graph/phone. It seems likely that its due to the similarity between the sounds and meanings—particularly those of the diminutive attribute of the plants name that implies its entwining growth (winkle from Latin) and the portion of the snails name that describes its curved shell (the Old English-Germanic wincel turned winkle).
So, if youve ever asked yourself that age-old question, What the heck do flowers and snails have in common? the answer is periwinkle.
(Thanks to Etymologist articulateantagonist for contributing this one!)
The word muscle derives from the Latin word "musculus", which translates to "little mouse".
When physicians were first observing musculature, it is said that they remarked that the muscles in the biceps and calves (most notably) looked like mice running under the skin.
So, I guess it stuck!
Quarantine comes from the French word "qarante", which means forty.
It comes from way back in the 1600s, when people were wary of diseases travelling by ship. When a ship arriving in port was suspected of being infected, it had to forego contact with the shore for a period of about 40 days. They would just float around for that period of time before coming in.
The word hazard comes from the Arabic "al zahr" which means "the dice".
The term came to be associated with dice during the Crusades and eventually took on a negative connotation because games of dice were associated with gambling.
The word disaster comes from the Greek "dis" meaning bad, and "aster", meaning star. The ancient Greeks used to blame tragedies on unfavorable planetary positions, hence "bad" "stars".
The word lemur comes from a Latin word that means "spirit of the dead". The person that named them was influenced by their nocturnal nature.
An Ultracrepidarian is a person who gives opinions beyond his area of expertise. It's a great one to whip out at a party.
The story behind the word goes like this...
In ancient Greece there was a renowned painter named Apelles. He was a little bit cocky, and sought out validation (don't we all) from others, so he used to display his paintings, then hide behind them to listen to the comments.
One time, a cobbler pointed out that the sole of the shoe was not painted correctly. Apelles fixed it. Encouraged by this, the cobbler began offering comments about other parts of the painting. At this point the painter cut him off with Ne sutor ultra crepidam meaning Shoemaker, not above the sandal meaning: one should stick to ones area of expertise.
The word "nice" comes from a Latin word meaning "ignorant".
Not a specific word, but rather a whole group of words. Consider that we call many animals by a different name than the food from them.
Cow = Beef.
Pig = Pork.
Chicken = Poultry.
Deer = Venison.
This can be traced back to the Norman Conquest of England in the 11th century, when the French came and took the crown. When the dust settled, England had French nobility ruling over peasantry with Germanic origins. As a result, the languages used were a mish-mash of French and Germanic.
What does this have to do with food? The peasantry raised the animals, so the names of the animals have Germanic origins. Cow from cou, pig from picbred, deer from dier or tier. Although they raised the animals, it was the nobility who ate the majority of them, so the words for the food come from French. Pork from Porc, Beef from Boeuf, Venison from Venesoun.
Obviously this doesn't hold true for all foods, especially those from the New World (which was many centuries after the Norman Conquest). And modern language has begun to eliminate some of the usages (such as calling the meat chicken instead of poultry).
Thanks to Etymologist SJHillman for contributing!
Tragedy comes from the Greek word "tragodia" which means "song of the male goat".
Although there is no consensus as to how this came to be, there are a few theories. Here are the primary ones from the Oxford English Dictionary:
One is that Greek tragedies were known as goat-songs because the prize in Athenian play competitions was a live goat. The contests were part of worship to Dionysus, involving chants and dances in his honour. The Romans knew Dionysus later as Bacchus, god of all things bacchanalian: in other words he freed people from their normal self through madness, wine, and ecstasy.
Sometimes the goat would be sacrificed, and a goat lament sung as the sacrifice was made. Hence the goat-song became intertwined with the Greek plays.
Others believe that in the plays themselves men and women would wear goat-costumes to dress up as satyrs—half-goat beings that worshipped and surrounded Dionysus in his revelry.
But by far my favourite suggestion is one that was offered in the Guardians celebrated Notes & Queries section. In answer to why the word tragedy comes from a word for goat-song, a Mr Marcus Roome of Clapton in London wrote simply: Have you ever heard a goat sing?.
Before the invention of guttering, roofs were made with wide eaves, overhangs, so that rain water would fall away from the house to stop the walls and foundations being damaged. This area was known as the eavesdrop.
The large overhang gave good cover for those who wished to lurk in shadows and listen to others conversations. Since the area under the eaves was considered part of the householders property, you could be fined under Anglo-Saxon law for being under the eaves with the intention of spying.
Hence the word, eavesdropping!
Thanks to Etymologist Kelderm2 for contributing!
Pumpernickel is a dark rye bread originating from Germany. Originally, the word pumpernickel was an abusive nickname for a dumb person, originating from "pumpern" meaning, to fart, and "nickel", meaning goblin, lout, or rascal.
An earlier German name for pumpernickel bread was krankbrot, which translated to "sick-bread."
But as of now, the bread translates to farting goblin.
Enjoy that fact the next time you eat it!
The word "sinister" comes from the Latin word (also "sinister") meaning left. This is because left-handed people were blamed for being cowards, evil, and demons. You know, because obviously your dominant hand is a true sign of evil.
The word dunce, meaning idiot, comes from the name of Johannes Duns Scotus, a medieval philosopher and theologian who was really caught up in the battle that raged over the status of universals. He was a really good arguer, so spiteful trolls from long ago, who couldn't face him in the court of logic, just turned his name into a pejorative and fought him in the court of public opinion.
After he had been dead for 200 years.
That's how much that guy ruled. I personally don't agree with his views on the metaphysical status of universals, but I have to admit that it's pretty baller that people are so afraid of your logic and argumentative skills that it inspires this kind of response.
Thanks to Etymologist logos__ for contributing!
Pretty much every modern Christian holiday (and many holidays from other religions as well) correspond to Pagan holidays, and Valentine's day is no different.
Ancient Romans had a similar holiday, called Lupercalia, that took place from February 13 to 15. Christians felt left out so they created their own version.
One of the main things celebrated and encouraged at the Lupercalia festival was fertility. Obviously, the best way to make girls more fertile is for men to run around naked, swatting virgins with goat-skin thongs (strips of leather) - called februa.
And that's why we call the month February.
This fact isn't totally confirmed, but it's a hilarious theory on the origin of the word.
You probably use this word at least once a week, but have you ever bothered to look up the origin? Look no further, because we've got you covered...
In Ancient Rome, the mint (the place where all the money was kept) was in a temple of Juno on the Capitoline hill. At one point or other, a group of people were going to attack Rome. As they were coming up the hill, the geese who lived there started squawking, and alerted everyone to the fact that they were being attacked. The Romans believed that Juno had sent them this warning, and because of this, the temple became the temple of Juno Moneta - Juno the Warner. So, the word "money" comes from the word monre - to warn.
You probably know this word to mean something along the lines of a perfect paradise.
Well, it actually comes from the Greek , meaning "not," and , meaning "place," because a utopia is an impossible place - something that couldn't exist.
As for the word dystopia, it just means a bad utopia. The word was coined after "utopia" by John Stuart Mill and based directly on it.
The word shambles has a very confusing backstory.
The Latin word it's derived from, scamillus just means a little stool or bench.
"Shambles" originally meant a stool as well.
The word then came to mean, more specifically, a stool or stall where things were sold.
Then, a stall where meat was sold.
Eventually, a meatmarket.
Then, a slaughterhouse.
Eventually, "shambles" just came to mean a bloody mess. (That was a pun - "shambles" now just means something along the lines of "a scene of destruction.")
So, there you have it! Shambles!
Thanks to Etymologist camelopardalisx for contributing!
The word lunatic derives from the Latin word "luna" meaning "moon". This was because people believed that insanity was caused by changes in the moon.
The word dinosaur comes from a comes from two words, first the Greek , meaning "terrible, awesome, mighty, fearfully great."
Second, , meaning lizard.
So, a big ol' scary lizard.
This word origin is hilarious! The word itself means "the estimation of something as worthless or valueless," but it comes from four Latin words that all mean the same thing: flocci, nauci, nihili, and pili - all meaning something like "at little value" or "for nothing." Total absurdity.
Okay, get ready to get a little scandalous with this one!
Today, lots of people use the word vanilla to mean something that's kind of boring or bland, (or, you know, the flavor), but after you get a load of it's origin, you might not be able to think that way ever again.
The word vanilla comes from the Latin word vagina! Vagina in Latin means sheath, and another meaning for the word sheath is the husk of a plant.
Vagina becomes Spanish vaina, also meaning "sheath," which becomes the diminutive form vainilla, meaning "vanilla plant." If you're confused, take a look at this picture and you'll see where they grabbed the inspiration...
Camelopardalis is a Latin word and it's origin is pretty hilarious.
The word camelopardalis is just Latin for "giraffe." But it's a portmanteau of two other words (meaning they just took two words and smushed them together). Can you guess which words they smushed together?
Camelus, meaning "camel,"
and pardalis, meaning "panther."
Why? Because the ancient Romans and Greeks thought a giraffe looked like a cross between a camel and a panther. I'm not exactly sure how, though.
This isn't exactly an English word, but it's a rather unexpected cross-family connection.
Now, as you may know, English is a member of the Indo-European language family, which includes languages from Icelandic to Bengali. Japanese, however, is not, and is most likely unrelated to any other language on Earth.
Check this out, though: The Japanese word (well, maybe it's a bound morpheme) for 'honey' is , typically3pronounced as , or mitsu.
Then, there's this English word, 'mead', which is a alcoholic beverage made from fermented honey. Now, 'mead' and 'mitsu' certainly sound similar, but to imagine that they are in any way related is surely a stretch of the imagination.
Turns out, they're cognates! That is, they come from the same root. How, you ask? Well, English 'mead' comes from Old English medu, from Proto-Germanic *meduz, still referring to mead. This, in turn, came from Proto-Indo-European *mdu, one of two4 words in PIE meaning 'honey'.
Japenese mitsu is a borrowing from Middle Chinese *mjit (preserved in plenty of modern Chinese languages, e.g. Mandarin m) which was borrowed from one of the freakin' Tocharian languages, which are an extinct group of Indo-European languages that were spoken in the Tarim Basin in modern Xinjiang, China. 'Honey' in Tocharian B, for example, was mit. This came from Proto-Tocharian *t() from, you guessed it, Proto-Indo-European *mdu.
Thanks to Etymologist canineraytube for contributing this!
The word "sardonic" comes from a sardonia mushroom. It was fabled that if you ate it, it caused facial convulsions resembling those of sardonic laughter, usually followed by death, bringing the meaning of sardonic humor to a whole new level.
The words "candidate" and "candid" both come from the Latin "candidus", meaning bright white. Why is this, you ask?
Well, way back in the day, orators and high-ranking Roman politicians would wear very clean, white togas when speaking to crowds to try to convey a sense of trustworthiness. Thus, the English word "candid's" modern definition of honest or trustworthy ties back to the perceived honesty of politicians. Kinda funny when you look at politicians today.
We often use the words "uppercase" and "lowercase" to denote which kinds of letters we're using, but have you ever stopped to ask yourself what these terms actually mean?
The words come from the way in which print shops were organized hundreds of years ago. Individual pieces of metal type were kept in boxes called cases. The smaller letters, which were used most often, were kept in lower cases that were easier to reach. The bigger letters were, as you have probably already guessed, kept in the upper cases.
Not many people realize that the term "Nazi" it was a label long before the National Socialists came to power.
You see, lots of Bavarian farmers were Catholics. Lots of Catholics named their children after Saint Ignatius. So, lots of people called Ignatius came to be viewed as "dumb country folk" (which, by the way, is an insult that came from English peasant farmers named Richard). And Igantius ("Ignazius" in German pronunciation) is shortened to 'Nazi'.
Calling the National Socialists Nazis is a bit like calling (a made up political party) the 'Red States for the Next America' the 'RedNex'.
Thank you for reading!
The amount of frivolous personal complaints seems to have hit new levels.
Whether it's complaints from co-workers or customers, nonsense is nonsense. The things I've heard people complain about in the workplace boggles my mind.
"Your smile isn't bright enough."
"I didn't feel appreciated."
"The color of your shirt is too loud."
"Your name is offensive."
Redditor InfiniteCalendar1 wanted to hear about some of the drama that's been thrown people's way, so they asked:
"What is the most ridiculous thing someone has filed a complaint against you or someone you know about?"
I once had a customer complain I didn't read the menu to her.
Not make suggestions, but literally read the menu to her.
"you guys have a great day"Giphy
"Working in retail I once said 'you guys have a great day' I was reported by an elderly women who objected to not being addressed as 'ma'am'."
"She also objected to 'have a great day' because she had come into the aquarium store because her fish was dead and she was upset that someone would tell her to 'have a great day' when her fish had died."
A measly grand?
"I got sued in small claims court by a mentally ill man who said I stole $1000 worth of roast beef and 2 sun tanning lights from him."
"It got continued twice and by the time we had our day in court, he forgot what he sued me for and just went off on a tirade about me being an a**hole."
"I once had a complaint filed against me for calling someone a slur in the elevator. My boss called me in, and we watched the camera footage from the elevator."
"Me and the other person were talking and having a good conversation and laughing with each other. My boss just said 'yeah I watched it earlier and I have no idea what they are talking about'."
"So someone tried to get me fired for no reason."
(manager and up)
"I once was told there was a high-level (manager and up) meeting being held about me… on account of my emails being written too well. :/ "
"I can write quick, well-worded emails, and someone in upper management thought that I must have been spending too much time writing my emails, possibly as a means of appearing to be superior to others."
"I worked at McDonalds. A man put a complaint in because I wouldn't let him in after we'd already shut."
Yeah, closed means closed.
You had time to get there during open hours. See you tomorrow.
We have lives too.
No thank you...Giphy
"Got a complaint filed against me by a customer for unnecessary rudeness because I turned down a guy's offer to take me out on a date."
"He asked me (repeatedly) while I was working. Dude was at least in his mid 40s; I was 16."
a scarlet letter...
"When I was a teenager working at an ice cream store, a secret shopper wrote that I was 'friendly but did not smile'."
"This write up was posted on the bulletin board like it was a scarlet letter of shame and the manager talked to me about smiling more."
"30 years later, I am still friendly but unsmiling."
A Little Off
"I had a coworker from a different department call me this morning and threatened me for something his boss had done regarding something I have no control over."
"I eventually got him to sheepishly admit that there was nothing I had control over in the situation and he was mad his boss had made the decision without consulting him first."
"Government work attracts some odd balls."
I hate retail!
"I was working in a lighting store (ceiling lights, chandeliers, etc). Secret shoppers would get sent over to us every so often and they were usually pretty obvious."
"This guy claimed he needed ceiling fans for his home so I go through the whole thing finding fans that work in his rooms, suit the design of his home, airflow needs, etc. But obviously without a specific need to buy something requiring electrical wiring this guy left without purchasing."
"He wrote that I was excellent in every way but didn't try to upsell him anything."
"At the next staff meeting the manager read this out, tried shame me in front of everyone and stressed that we need to try and sell people crap they don't even need."
"How the heck do I upsell a damn ceiling fan? 'Hey would you like a $2000 crystal chandelier with your fans? How about a set of garden lights?' I hate retail."
Stay Literate...Read Friends Tv GIFGiphy
"I once had a coworker file an HR complaint against me for reading books at lunch."
"I told HR that he's probably just offended I'm not reading hardcore pornography magazines on the clock like he does."
I'm so glad I work at home with only dogs and a cat.
And when I go outside I avoid eye contact for all of these reasons.
Find some inner peace folks.
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Death is coming for all of us.
I hate that fact about life, so I do my best to ignore it. But I know it's there. So every once in a while I can't help but wonder about it.
My biggest hope is the end is quick and painless, but some warning would be nice, so I have time to do a few things.
I often ponder what that list of "things" would entail if I was given a warning.
And what if that ending was coming fast? How do you sufficiently spend a few hours wrapping up a life?
Redditor Valleygawd wanted to hear about how we would spend those final, precious moments by asking:
"You have 24 hours left alive, what do you do for your last day on earth?"
"Say goodbye to all my friends, go outside and take my dog on a long walk and then back home to have pizza and await my fate."
"Eat McDonald's at a Burger King. What they gonna do, send me to jail for life."
"I'd buy two large fries and two large cokes at Mcdonald's and take them over to Burger King and order two whoppers for lunch."
"I know this is satire, but a buddy of mine once got kicked out of a McDonald's lobby for bringing in KFC. We were all in high school and meeting to do homework but instead we all ended up leaving."
You've Got Mail
"Send out a chain message to everyone I know saying that if you don't share this with 10 people, the person you received this message from will die tomorrow."
"Plus add on that if the people they share it to don't share it to 10 other people, they will die themselves."
"If I'm guaranteed 24 hours alive I will do a ton of extremely dangerous crap because I can't die until the 24 hours are up."
"Morphine drip is how a lot of us go anyhow. Doesn't seem so bad."
Well that should keep the time lively, but I don't understand doing things that could cut short what little time there already is.
To each their own, I guess.
Out & AboutGiphy
"If I'm gonna die, then they might as well know. I'm coming out, doing what I want for once and having the most comforting day in my life."
Expose it All
"Tell everyone I love how I feel and then get all my passwords and crap in order so people can close out all my online activities. Then go hold my wife until I die... well, probably I'll go sit in the emergency room to die so my wife doesn't have to remember me dying in her arms the rest of her life."
"Rack up as much debt as I can buying expensive things and hiding them for my family to find later (after the estate has been sorted out)."
"Makes me wonder if I have 50k in CC debt and 75k in the bank, does my family get all 75 or will the bank be legally entitled to get 50k back?"
"The banks get 50k and your family gets the leftovers. If you don't have enough money then your estate is dissolved and your family gets nothing, the debt goes away (unless someone tricks your fam into paying the debt with their money)."
Send the Message
"Spend the 24 hours with my kids and family cultivating a few last precious memories for them. Also a few hours staving off sleep recording messages for them to be able to listen to when they are older - things they aren't old enough to hear, but I would like them to hear from me when they are ready for the message."
I don't know anymore...
"Well, I wouldn't live long enough to face the consequences for whatever I do, so I'd do some things I see as bad ideas at the moment:"
"I'd cuss out my most hated person in the world. Forget that guy."
"I'd tell my best friend (former best friend? I don't know anymore...) how I feel about them, and apologize for hiding it."
"Other than that, I dunno what I'd do, maybe spend time with friends or family or panic. Make sure to let everyone know that I wouldn't be around much longer."
Where to Begin?Giphy
"Fix my will, delete all electronics, call a firm to take my stuff to goodwill, call a real estate agent and put apartment for sale, give my organs to hospital. And if time, I reckon a good nap and massage would be nice too."
Is there really a best way to spend your last 24 hours?
You can't travel, that's time consuming. There will always be so much more to do.
Que será, será, I suppose.
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You never really know the people you meet.
Sound a little too much? You'd be surprised.
Who was the most dangerous person you've meet?
You can meet people randomly, anywhere, who might possess more than what's on the surface. Either their past, or their present, dictates their capabilities, and if you say or do the wrong thing, they could lash out at you at any moment.
Say More Right Now!
"My ex. He was handsome and charismatic and very charming. Like a monster in beautiful sheep's clothing. Suddenly after a few fingers of Brandy, he made Charles Manson look inviting. It took 4.5 years, a hostage situation, a SWAT team, and me changing my name and moving 5 states to get away."
"Some people need warning labels."
Needing Something To Help Change
"A guy who I knew for a long time, was extremely friendly and overall a nice guy, we used to live in the same building but didn't hang out often."
"Time passed and I didn't see him for years, though he headed back to the state his family lives at, pretty far from where I live, instead, I learned after he got released that he went to prison for 7 years for drug dealing and [selling] illegal guns, turns out the guy was kind of a big shot in organized crime [around] the area, never suspected a thing."
"Now days he did a completely 180°, his daughter was born and he's working in a honest job, I'm glad things are looking better for him, still kinda weird, I used to play soccer with the guy and thought I knew him well, when in fact I knew nothing about him..."
Not Full Of It
"So seems like everyone is naming off various criminals. I was in the military (not me or any of my close buddies, I was a mechanic). One of the instructors in my training company was a sniper with many deployments and a slew of confirmed kills. Sometimes instructors like to hype themselves or fellow instructors up to scare recruits. Well I ended up running into him a few years later on deployment and turns out he was indeed not full of sh-t. He was about to board one of birds to go out on a mission. One that ended being "successful". Also, outside of boot camp, he was a very calm and genuinely nice guy. Unless you were the enemy of course"
"I once met a violent felon from England who had just been released from prison. My cousin took me to a random house party, I started a conversation with the other person that seemed awkward there. Turns out they had just been released from prison recently for violent offense. To make matters worse, instead of flashing him the peace sign as I left, apparently I made a vulgar gesture and I had to get to the vehicle quickly."
It's always the ones you least expect, right? The ones who are maybe a little too quiet, or maybe a little too nice, who reveal themselves to be the most deadly.
A Lot For Someone Under 18
"Grew up with a kid on my street in a small town. He was a few years older than kinda a punk as a kid, but we all were. Used to skateboard, rollerblade and he would show me Explicit music when I was too young to get it myself. Come high school time we never really associated because he had gotten heavily into drugs. Got into a bad meth deal and went back and blew their heads off a few blocks from our houses… After the whole story came out, it turns out they had tied him to a chair and burnt him with cigarettes repeatedly. Obviously killing someone is wrong but, I'm fairly certain a child doesn't deserve full punishment for killing 2 men who tortured him. I'm pretty sure he got life in prison before he even turned 18"
Almost Hired Them
"We had a young carpenter come to our home to discuss a remodeling job when we had young children."
"Very soon afterward there was an article in the newspaper about him - how he had been accidentally released from prison. He had murdered a small child, and was sent back to jail."
"I've always wondered what could have happened if we had hired him, and our children had been rambunctious and annoyed him....."
Not Where I'm Supposed To Be
"Some guy I met in county jail. GP was filled up, so they put me on the psych floor. I figured he was just there for a minor thing because he didn't seem like a bad guy. Turns out he killed two people over a drug deal gone bad. Dismembered their bodies then just left them like that in an open field to send a message."
"Why were you in the same pod as them? What crimes were you in for damn"
"Warrant for unpaid speeding tickets. Back then, county was so full, they just put you wherever there's space to fit a new body. They didn't care."
You Think You Know Someone...
"The security guard at my office building was the nicest guy. Always greeted everyone by name, always remembered little details about people, like, "Hey, how is your dog doing? Did everything check out at the vet?" And so on. Told me he was patrolling the lot, and noticed the air in my tires was getting a bit low, and to be careful."
"One morning, he came in, was telling jokes, smiling as always."
"Later that evening found out he had killed his wife and young son the night before, and came into work like nothing happened!"
Never Let Age Or Stature Indicate Capability
"Something similar happened to me. This girl I wouldn't say was scary in the sense of stature or physically scary at all, though she was pretty weird. So I worked at phone store a couple years ago and she came in with her mom, she's probably high school aged if I recall correctly, so they come in and this is the 2nd time in a week or so so I help them out again, they buy 2 phones and 2 smart watches and finance it all on their account, both happy as can be laughing and making conversation."
"I show up to work the next day and my manger is talking about something in the news, apparently [Insert girls name] had taken her best friend out into the woods and shot her in the back of the head the day before she came in and bought some stuff from me. I spent probably a good 2 hours with her. Pretty crazy stuff."
Dungeons & Dragons & Murder
"Similar - A guy I used to play D&D with ran the game from his basement. He told us one week to move our stuff from the table to a shelf if we were going to leave it there because he was going to do "spring cleaning" in the late summer. The room looked clean but what ever. He "forgot" to do it that week and had us to it the next week (2nd friday). Then the third friday when we gamed again he got a call from the cops asking if he knew anything about his ex from 10 years ago that was missing. He told us all he had nothing to do with it. That following monday he was swated, the cops searched his house and took his truck. A month later they found an odd stop on his trucks GPS. After checking that stop they found her body."
"The entire time he was acting like his normal self other then "being tired from cleaning". He is now sitting in jail. I wrote him once. He acts like nothing is wrong and that he will be out "soon" even though its been a full year. I hope he rots."
You never know who you're talking with.
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Humans can connect with everything.
Which fictional character's death made you cry?
Let's get the notable ones out of the way, the ones that hit us as kids that we've never truly gotten over.
Feeling That Real World Connection
"Sirius Black; I sobbbbbbed my first read through of Order of the Phoenix ."
"As someone who's parents are dead and who's uncle became the parent by default, I can't agree more with this. I watched his death while running on the treadmill the other day and had to stop because I was crying from all orifices"
The Song Is Called "Married Life." You're Welcome.
"Ellie from Up! "
"Gets me every time"
Gotta Watch Them Bees
"Too many to count but I remember crying my eyes out at the end of My Girl when I was like, seven or eight watching it on VHS, probably the first character death that made me cry"
"His glasses! He can't see without his glasses." Gets me EVERY time"
Just When You Think There's Only One To Deal With...
"Tara from Buffy"
"Also Joyce, I bawled my eyes out"
"I'm showing Buffy to a friend for the first time and Joyce's death basically just happened. Buffy's reaction is so heartbreaking. We watched Once More With Feeling last night so Tara's death is only a few episodes away now. I'm dreading it."
Maybe it's the nature of the death, or how we feel a character didn't deserve their untimely fate, that resonates with us the most. "They didn't deserve that!" we'll scream to no one because we're in a theater or at home, watching Netflix at 3 in the morning.
You Know There's Only Going To Be One
"Ali in squid game"
"I actually cried"
"There are other scenes that made me cry in the show, but Ali's is the only one that's literally so goddamn hard for me to watch."
I'm Tired, Boss
"John Coffey from The Green Mile."
"Ughhh. It's "Don't put me in the dark boss, I'm scared of the dark" gets me every time. That and hanks grabbing his hand."
That's Somehow Worse Than Crying?
"Leslie in Bridge to Terabithia"
"I didn't cry, but I still remember vivid dreams about trying to find her in a search party on more than one occasion."
And then there's these, characters who sacrificed everything for the ensuring safety of their friends, family, and loved ones.
Men Are Imperfect
"Borimir, he died with honor, you wanna make a man cry show him a gripping scene of a man restoring his honor and being strong in the face of great adversity at the cost of his own life. The scene with him as he dies holding aragorns hand asking forgiveness and receiving it, im tearing up rn f-ck."
"Disappointing how far I had to scroll to find this response."
"Boromir was a true representative of mankind. An extremely complex character that was good at heart, but was overcome with desperation. He didn't know what would happen with his community and acted how he thought was right."
"At the end of the day, he did the right thing when his friends were in danger."
"One of the best characters ever to be created. He causes such internal strife for me every time I watch the movies. Depending how my life is at the time, I will agree with different aspects of his actions. But at the end of the day I will always respect him and cry when he dies."
He Might Have Been Your Father...
"Since I watched it again last night, Yondu in Guardians of the Galaxy 2. The Ravager funeral always gets to me, especially Kraglin's reaction to it."
"He may have been your father, boy, but he wasn't your daddy!"
"My wife had a six year old daughter when we met. She'd gone no contract with the father when my step daughter was 2 because he was unstable and had violent tendencies. My step daughter tracked him down when she was about 14 and started rebuilding their relationship. He'd gotten mental health treatment in the twelve years since my wife met him, so we were okay with this and she even went live with him for a while. That didn't last because he didn't have the patience to cope with the unique challenges of being a parent to her (she has her own mental health issues) and she came back home, saying that she was glad to have gotten to know him but that I was her real dad."
"Yeah, I ugly cried in the theater when Yondu died."
You Can Rest, Now
"Tony Stark, he was the first hero I watched in high school. By the time he died, I realized I'd known the guy through movies for over 10 years at that point. I had graduated college, grad school, and started a new job. All those memories of my friends learning how to play the iron man theme song were some of the best years."
"This one was harsh. I was not expecting it."
"And then you start thinking about his kid and Pepper who he left behind. Damn, I'm going to get choked up thinking about it."
I'm not crying.
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