Hungarian Word of the Day: Atom


Just about every language on the planet, including Hungarian, uses the Greek word atom to refer to one of the smallest units of matter in existence. The word comes from a (equivalent to English “un”) and tom meaning “to cut” because originally it was thought that it was the smallest unit and was “uncuttable” or indivisible.

Incidentally, the CAT scan (often called just CT now) means “computer (aided) tomography” from the same Greek root, referring to “reading” (graph) the computer’s (virtual) “cutting” apart of your body with X-rays.

In slang Hungarian usage however, atom refers to a state of extreme drunkenness and intoxication.

Any time you are atom részeg (roughly ah-tome reh-seeg) or “atom drunk” in a Hungarian bar, it means you are plastered, wasted, “three sheets to the wind” and definitely need to call a taxi, which luckily is another universal word that Hungarians use.

AND NOW YOU KNOW!

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4 Responses »

  1. Wow, I just love the “three sheets to the wind” expression! Thanks for teaching me something new :)

  2. In Romanian, when someone is very drunk, you can say that he is “praștie.” That’s “sling” in English and “fronde” in French. Speaking about La Fronde… :)

  3. “X” era nu beat mort, ci de-a dreptul pulbere…din Cel mai iubit dintre paminteni. “X” was not dead drunk, but powder, kind of translation.

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