jamon etymology

The etymological origin of the word jamón is much more interesting than you think. People from all over the world associate this word with the delicious Spanish ham, but where does this word actually come from?


The first mentioning of this word goes as far as the ancient Greece, where Apollonius Dyscolus mentioned it under the name "Kempé" (leg) in one of his treatises on Greek grammar. 


The Romans used to call the leg "Camba". This is known from Julius Caesar's famous saying " Cambae nocere" ( "My legs hurt ")  which he allegedly said just after crossing the Rubicon River.


The French changed Camba into Jambe, and in the 13th century the word "jambon" appeared for the first time in its "ham meaning" not just a leg. Then it was finally the time for the Spanish.


From the 14th century the word "jamón" began to be used in Spain as a word for ham. It replaced the word "pernil", which had been used until then (by the way, this word survives to this day in Catalan and means nothing but ham).


It is not a surprise that these days you can find the word jamón in an English dictionary, meaning exactly what you would expect. The most delicious dry-cured Spanish ham

An interesting fact: The english word "gammon" is cognate to jamón (both inherited from the French jambon).