A similar transmogrification occurred with the word nimrod, a generic reference to the biblical character of that name, who in the Good Book is referred to as “a mighty hunter.” How, then, did the word become a synonym for jerk or idiot? We have none other a personage (or, more accurately, a rabbitage) than Bugs Bunny to thank for this significant shift in meaning.
In a Looney Tunes cartoon featuring Bugs’s fumbling nemesis Elmer Fudd as a hunter on the rabbit’s trail, the carrot-chomping coney sardonically refers to Fudd as a nimrod — insulting him by derisively comparing him to a biblical personage renowned for his hunting skills. Apparently, later generations of Looney Tunes fans who hadn’t kept up with their Scripture picked up on Bugs’s attitude without understanding the ironic allusion, and the word acquired a new meaning, while its original sense faded into the background.
The moral of these stories? If you come across a mystery word in your reading and are tempted to employ it in your own writing, first be sure you understand its implications.
After the fall of the Byzantine Empire in the late 15th century, the name “Constantinople” fell into disuse, with no obvious replacement. But over the centuries in which Constantinople was the urban hub of the area (and, as you’ll see, even after its fall), people referred to it as “the city.” The Greek phrase for “in the city” is “??? ??? ????” which is pronounced “is tin Poli.” Over time, this became “Istanbul.”