My daughter informed of this one, courtesy of her history book. =)
So we all know jumbo as “very large.” Even excessively large. But did you know it came from an elephant’s name? I didn’t!
In the 1880s there was an elephant in the London zoo called Mumbo Jumbo (because they thought it sounded African). The name may have even been influenced by the West African word for “elephant.” In 1882, Jumbo was sold to P. T. Barnum, where he became one of the stars of the famous American circus.
This is when the word Jumbo began to be well known. And it only took 4 short years for it to be used as a general word for size, especially for products! It’s especially noteworthy considering Jumbo, who Barnum reports was the biggest elephant he’d ever seen, was tragically struck by a freight train and killed in 1885 while the circus was loading up to move. =(