Origins of Common Words - Cannibal

About the history, origins, and definitions of the common word cannibal.


Cannibal - When Christopher Columbus first sighted the natives of the West Indies, he was certain he had found the East. But their tribal name, Canibales, did not reflect their allegiance to the Gran Can, or Grand Khan, of Tartary, as Columbus assumed. It was simply a version of their word for strong or valiant. Since these Indians were said to eat human flesh, their name--or a hispanicization thereof--came to mean man-eater, or anthropophagus, if you will. The often posited connection between cannibal and canine is intriguing, but it is etymological nonsense.

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