Poop Week!
On January 15th, 2017 we learned about

Picking through the past of the word ‘poop’

The word ‘poop’ was first written down over 600 years ago, in reference to the rear deck of a ship. Much to my children’s disappointment, this name had nothing to do with feces, instead being connected to French and Latin terms for ‘stern.’ So at that point, the smell of a ‘poop’ would have only been salty, sea air. If you wanted to talk about stinky poop as we now know it, you’d have to wait until at least 1721, and even then it wouldn’t quite be the bit of potty talk you’re probably thinking of.

Happily, poop’s non-Latin origins align much more closely with the more comedic facets of our favorite, child-friendly, word for excrement. In Middle English, the verb poupen meant to make an abrupt sound, or to blow or toot a horn. You can probably guess where we’re going with this, as the opportunity for onomatopoeia was apparently not missed by history, and ‘poop’ started seeing use to describe a fart. By 1744, in what is probably the most appropriate etymological evolution ever, poop progressed past passing gas and finally found its calling as a term for feces. Interestingly, pooping wasn’t a thing for another couple hundred years, turning up in print as a verb in 1903.

Other terms for number two

So what was the world doing in the toilet before pooping was an option? We obviously have a slew of slang and medical terms for excrement, but the most common alternative is some form of kakka. Caca, kacka, kaka and more are common, if sometimes vulgar, terms for doodoo, with roots going back to some of the earliest Indo-European languages. And while I’m not getting into it with my second grader or preschooler, I’d be remiss to not mention shit, which was in use by the 14th century, having come from terms like Old High German’s scīzan and Old English’s scēadan. Shit doesn’t quite have the fart tie-in, but with original meanings concerning defecation or “separation” from waste, it’s always been a surprisingly precise word.

Source: Poop, Online Etymology Dictionary

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