Christmas etymology corner – ‘Eggnog’, ‘Hot Toddy’ and the trusty ‘Regmaker’

It is the party season, and you might be intrigued to know what is behind the names of some of the drinks you could be offered this Christmas. One drink that is especially associated with the festive season is eggnog, whose name comes from nog, an old dialect word for a type of strong beer. Another egg-based festive drink is advocaat, which comes from the Dutch word for an advocate or barrister, because this liqueur was considered suitable for clearing the throat before making a speech in court. Or perhaps you would prefer to warm yourself with a hot toddy. Although this word is redolent of cold December nights, it actually has a tropical origin and comes from the Hindi tārī, meaning the juice or sap of the tār (a type of palm tree).

After all that drinking, you might wake up with a sore head and need something to pick you up. The English word ‘pick-me-up’ needs no explanation, but if you live in South Africa you might reach for a ‘regmaker’ – that’s a word that comes from Afrikaans and literally means ‘something to make you all right’.

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