Sometimes we have to examine those favorite words. Like pizza. Right? I don’t know about your house, but in mine, pizza is a staple. My children adore it. Almost as much as I do. (Hey, I’ve had more years to grow the love…)
So it’s no surprise that the other day, as I informed my boy-o that pizza has two Zs in it, he asked, “But why? I thought it was spelled like Piza. Like maybe that’s where it’s from.”
As it turns out…nope! The origin of the word pizza is a bit of a mystery, but I’ll tell you what I’ve learned.
First off, it can be a bit confusing to check the etymology and see that it’s listed as first recorded in 1934. Odd, considering I’ve seen scans of menus dating from the early 1900s that have pizza on them. What’s up with that??
Well, this is when it entered the English language–as in, was adopted as an English word, not just borrowed. Before that, it was just considered Italian. Kind of like how merci is a word everyone knows, but when we speak it, we know it’s French. The 1934 date isn’t when the deliciousness was created, but rather when English speakers decided it should be a permanent part of our vocabulary (hear, hear!).
But where did it come from? This is where the word-historians aren’t quite sure. Could be, they say, from the dialectal pinza, which is from the Latin “pound, stamp.” (That’s what a 1907 Italian dictionary claims.) Could be of Germanic influence and related to pittz–“cake, pie.” Or another German-borrowed option is pizzo, “morsel, bite.”
Who’s to say which one is right? Regardless, I maintain it’s a perfect food. 😉