THE FOOD OF THE GODS
The meaning and origin of words and phrases related to cocoa
Cocoa is a powder made from the seeds of the cocoa tree or the hot drink made from this, together with milk and sugar. Like ‘chocolate’, the word cocoa is derived from a word in the Nahuatl language of the Aztecs, cacahuatl, cacauatl meaning '(beans of the) cocoa tree' (uatl meaning tree). The first part of the word was to pass into Spanish as cacao and the word was spelt that way when it made its first appearance in English in the middle of the 16th century. It was not until 1707 that the word is recorded spelt in its current spelling of cocoa and, to begin with, the 'a' at the end was included in the pronunciation so that the word had three syllables. It is confusion with the 'coco' part of coconut is credited with the condensed pronunciation we use today. In the 18th century, the plant was named Theobroma cacao by Linnaeus, giving it a genus name that was Greek for 'food of the gods'. Cocoa and the species name cacao are fundamentally the same word.
I should cocoa is a somewhat dated expression meaning 'certainly not' and it is most often used ironically. First recorded in 1936, it is cockney rhyming slang for the expression 'I should say so'.
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