Origin of the word “Tobacco”

There are several hypotheses for the origin of the word “tobacco“. One says it originated from the Arabic tabbaq (تبغ) through the Castilian tabaco and the Italian tabacco, which were already used in the ninth century as the name of several plants.

Other believe that the word “tobacco” comes from the name of the island of Tobago or the region of Tabasco, in Mexico, some of the places where the plant was first found; while the word for “cigarette” derives from the Mayan word used for naming objects that smoke, “sik’ar“.

Another theory is that it originated from Taino Indians, which used the word to name their pipes used for smoking tobacco. The plant (Nicotiana tabacum) was first smoked by American Indians, who wrapped their dried leaves in palm or corn leaves.

Its scientific name, Nicotiana, was given in honor of the French ambassador to Portugal, Jean Nicot, the person that introduced the plant in France.

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