It’s another theme week on the Wiki Corner! This week, we’re talking word origins!
We’re starting out with the word “shampoo”, which entered the English language via the Indian subcontinent. It dates to 1762, and comes from a Hindi word meaning “to press, knead, or soothe”. In India, a variety of herbs and extracts have been used to make shampoo for centuries, with the first shampoo dating back to the 1500s. Cleansing their hair and body massage during daily baths was an indulgence of early colonial traders in India. When they returned to Europe, they brought back their newly learned habits, including the hair treatment they called shampoo. A Bengali entrepreneur named Dean Mahomed is credited with introducing the practice of shampooing to Britain. He opened a bath house in 1814, where he offered medicated vapor massages he called “shampooing”. He advertised them as a treatment for many diseases, including gout, stiff joints, sprains, and aches and pains. As time went on, the term shampooing began to refer to scalp massages only. Shampoo wasn’t available commercially until the turn of the 20th century, with the first liquid shampoo invented in 1927. Have you ever wondered how astronauts wash their hair in space? NASA gives them rinseless shampoo which is just applied and then towel dried. It was originally made for hospital patients who couldn’t take showers! Learn more here.