Origin of the name "Cannabis"

7 months ago

Origin of the name "Cannabis"

The plant’s name Cannabis originates from the Greek word κάνναβις (kánnabis), which was originally a Scythian word, and the word Hemp may also be a variant of a word from the same Scythian source. Later, Scythian expressions cannabis and hemp spread throughout the Indo-European languages.

Herodotus (c. 440 BCE) recorded the use of cannabis in The Histories (book about the record of the ancient traditions, politics, geography, and clashes of various cultures).

In 1548 Oxford English Dictionary recorded the first use of the expression Cannabis sativa.

The name marijuana or marihuana for Cannabis sativa has more of a folk etymology. The use of the word marijuana originated in Mexico among Mexican Spanish natives, and it’s associated with a female name Maria Juana, but we are yet to discover the story that reveals the connection between the two. The word was excessively used back in the 1930s by the press to give cannabis an alternative foreign-sounding name, making it seem more dangerous and, in that way, disaffecting the American people from it.

Another theory is that the word marijuana comes from the Chinese word for hemp “ma”. It is thought Chinese explorers called the flower of cannabis “ma ren hua” meaning hemp seed flower. This may have been picked up on by Spanish natives in the Americas, giving another potential source of the name.


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