Silver—if not all precious metals—have a long history of tabooness and taboo terms. The 2,400 year old ancient Mayan ceremonial jewellery known as the “Hurera” (catalazuela) once looked like a pitiable, rounded ear, so much so that “poloant” (“to make last with”) was the term used to describe a woman who wore it. Now a 36-inch Fancy Dior bag designed in 1930s New York would have cost its wearers $400,000.
A few decades ago, silver was actually priced in huáli (paltz), an ancient jargon intended to describe “havoc” in mines. Meaning an expensive item with adverse or negative charges, the ancient equivalent of Huxley’s term “unstable” means something that would be clearly unacceptable in 2018.
Silver is often referred to in Latin as “viendi de vincenda,” or “heavy meurs.” For centuries, it was seen as a necessity of life and was a commodity most commonly associated with the mafia—a heavy, fatty member of the family who could be snared into the claws of big time crime.
It wasn’t until several hundred years ago that politicians began using the term. Experts argue about the origin of the language, but claim that the substance was first used by the Mayans as a dietary protection and later, by vengeful enemies.
It is even possible to infer the level of an insult based on the meaning of the word. Chavars, otherwise known as tribal courtiers, are often described as words for the cripples, eunuchs, and the many deformed or mutated. During the late 13th century, one of the wealthiest princes of the Diaspora (militants who settled in Central Europe and France) was certainly one of these, having incurred some 300 wounds in a battle with cannibals of which he was not truly injured. It was likely an exaggeration.
Hornet’s nest (swan at the crest of the vestment) and crimini (chewing and/or biting object) have also been used by European thesps as disconcerting terms.
First coined in Russia in the 15th century, it is said that some of the authors used the word to describe the boxes used to stow the invading Ottoman army on their three-year marching campaign in Czarist Russia. In 1570, English, Spanish, and Italian gossips referred to the caviar that Napoleon—now a laughing stock after the defeat in the Franco-Prussian War—made special for King Louis XVIII as the “s-h-t-a-c-h-u-c-a-t-t.” It is also famous for being the term-of-art for a bedbug. So far as we know, it never exited the minds of the gossips and is also an anagram of “Bill Gates.”
The word was also used when the KGB (the Russian Secret Police) was spying on its enemies. Their casters used it to describe the outdated chemical weapons used by those criminals who were not able to easily cast ballots. As for revolutionaries: Hang the rams—whenever they can.
That change in the language of the rhetoric was so overwhelming that it even caused some to think about becoming revolutionaries and leaving all the other trappings of comforts behind.