Fake Etymologies

Interesting is better than true.

hap‧haz‧ard, adj. /ˌhæpˈhæz.ɚd/

On 28 October 1919, the Volstead Act overcame presidential veto in the United States Senate by a vote of 65–20, thus becoming law. The purpose of the act was to define and specify the enforcement of the Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, commonly called Prohibition. While primarily associated with alcoholic beverages, one of the bill’s riders concerned “language inappropriate to public consumption and, therefore, public utterance.” A sample list of substitute terms was provided with the bill. (See also “Liberty cabbage” and “freedom fries.”) Most were not taken seriously by the public, even among those who took the bill’s other provisions very seriously. Yet, somehow, the substitution of “haphazard” for “half-assed” (with the ph pronounced as a blend) caught on at speakeasies, perhaps out of a sense of irony.