Unless you are blur like sotong (a little slow catching on – see below), you will know of the existence of the Korean hit series Squid Game . You might also know that this was named after the real-life children’s game ojingeo , a version of tag involving opposing teams advancing across a squid diagram drawn on the ground. What we don’t know is where the English word “squid”, appearing in the 1600s, comes from. Major dictionaries merely say its origin is obscure (though some suggest a sailor’s variant of “squirt”, for the squid’s emitting of ink). The origin of cuttle(fish), too – in the same class of cephalopods (from the Greek kephalópodes , meaning “head-feet”) as squid and octopus – is unknown, first appearing in Old English as cudele (possibly from a Germanic root, meaning “bag”, referring to its ink sac). Cuttlefish’s other term was sepia, appearing in English from the mid-1500s, coming from the Latin sēpia , and from the Greek σηπία . This gave the name of the family Sepiidae and the genus Sepia, to which cuttlefish belong. The word “sepia” is also used for the pigment of rich brown prepared from the inky secretion of the cuttlefish (the ink of octopus and squid being black and bluish-black, respectively). Already used in writing in ancient Greece and Rome, sepia became popular as a drawing medium from the Renaissance, used in Leonardo da Vinci’s sketches and notes, and in monochrome watercolour painting, as well as for sepia tint developed for 19th century photography. This synecdochal meaning of sepia, sometimes called Roman sepia, appears in English from 1821, from the Italian seppia . ‘I’m totally ghosting Taylor’: Tinder, hip hop’s effect on the spooky word Long relished in Mediterranean and Asian kitchens, squid was only embraced in North America in the mid-20th century, most popularly in the form of deep-fried calamari rings. The word (also referencing squid in the genus Sepioteuthis ) is from the Italian calamari , plural of calamaro “squid”, from the Latin calamarius for ink pot or pen case, from calamus “reed pen” – for the squid’s long, tapering internal shell and black ink. The creature’s curious characteristics prompt linguistic creativity. For its backward movement, the traditional Newfoundland saying “You can’t tell the mind of a squid” designates an unreliable person or thing. Singapore English’s blur like sotong (Malay for “squid, cuttlefish, octopus”) for a clueless person, references the murkiness produced by its ink. Because its curling up when cooked is akin to rolling up one’s bedclothes and leaving, the Cantonese 炒魷魚 cáau jàuh jyùh “to fry/fried squid” means to be fired.