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10 Historical Words That Don't Mean What You Think


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Nimrod
Stephen Boyd portrays the defiant King Nimrod in a scene from the 1966 film "The Bible: In The Beginning".  20th Century-Fox/Getty Images
Stephen Boyd portrays the defiant King Nimrod in a scene from the 1966 film "The Bible: In The Beginning". 20th Century-Fox/Getty Images

"You nimrod!" This disparaging remark is used to tell someone you think they're stupid or a jerk. Maybe both. But Nimrod was mentioned in the Bible, which doesn't paint him as a guy who was a few bricks short of a full load. Nimrod was the great-grandson of none other than Noah, and the grandson of Ham. A mighty warrior and hunter, he founded Babylon, the first great empire after the devastating flood.

A rebel and a leader, Nimrod is also credited with constructing the Tower of Babel, an immense structure topped with a temple. The purpose of the tower was for his followers to reach God to destroy him. According to the Bible and other ancient texts, God thwarted the plan by creating multiple languages so the people could not understand each other and began to scatter [sources: Livingston, Mystery Babylon].

So how did Nimrod's name come to mean someone slow-witted? There's no definitive answer, but many people claim it was thanks to Bugs Bunny of "Looney Tunes" fame sometime in the 1940s. Bugs was supposedly making fun of hapless hunter Elmer Fudd by sarcastically calling him "Nimrod," the skilled hunter of yore.


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