ok, follow me. so the latin word for apple is malum. if you look this up you will discover that the latin word malum means evil or wicked. why would an apple be associated with evil or wickedness? well, the first thing that comes to mind is the garden of eden and the apple of knowledge. so maybe apples and evil are intertwined all the way back to latin. ah, but wait. the latin word mālum with a long “a” means apple. but the latin word malum with a short “a” means evil. root of the french word for evil, “mal,” and lots of english words like malefactor, maleficent, malediction, etc. the two words come from two greek roots that are entirely unrelated, and so it is purely coincidence that malum, long “a,” and malum, short “a,” happen to be latin homographs. if, of an evening, you find yourself poking around the internet on this subject, you will also find that the apple in the garden of eden was almost certainly not an apple, which doesn’t grow well, or at all, in the deserts of southern iraq, but was most likely either a quince or a pomegranate. so there you have it. two words: malum and malum, tied together by their spelling and by a rich cultural history, and, in the end, completely and totally unrelated. i can’t decide if i’m happy about the way i just spent the last half hour, or sad.


minneapolis, minnneota

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