Sunday, January 29, 2006

how a colony became a perfume

Scented fragrances known as cologne derive their name from Cologne, in Germany. The city of Cologne was so famous for the manufacture and exports of perfumes, that its name became synonymous with them, and perfumes began being called Cologne. Or as the french called them, eau de cologne, the water of cologne. The city in turn got its name during the first century AD when it was a settlement at the edge of the Roman Empire. As a settlement being upgraded to city status, it was decided to name it after the then Roman emperor and his wife: Claudius, and Agrippina (who was born there). So in a slight error of judgment, they decided to call it Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensis. But people could not be troubled with such a long name, and they eventually shortened it down to Colonia, or Cologne as it became eventually. And thus we ended up using the word for colony as the word for perfume.