A couple weeks ago a friend sent me a list of “18 English Words That Are Actually Hindi,” and while quite a few of them I knew that about, others really surprised me.
One of those was cushy. I knew that cushy meant “soft” and so I think I always imagined it came from cushion. Cuz, you know…logical, right?
Wrong. Cushy comes directly from the Hindi khush, meaning “pleasant, happy, healthy.” That morphed into “easy” or “soft” by the early 1900s.
Cushion, on the other hand, comes from the Latin via French and has been around since the 1300s. So the fact that these two words sound very similar is largely a coincidence, but also probably has something to do with why the “soft, easy” meaning of cushy really caught on.