Ask a Stoner: The Origins of "Pot" and "Weed"

Ask a Stoner: The Origins of "Pot" and "Weed"

Dear Stoner: Where do the words “pot” and “weed” come from?

Dear Kev: The nomenclature for cannabis can get pretty creative (the Drug Enforcement Administration has some particularly funny definitions and descriptions), but “pot” and “weed” are the most widely used nicknames in the United States, along with “marijuana.” That word, a variation of the Mexican-Spanish “marihuana,” actually has a negative connotation for some; the bad feelings stem from a theory that “marijuana” was used by the federal government to tie Mexican immigrants to an anti-cannabis movement almost a century ago.

Ask a Stoner: The Origins of "Pot" and "Weed"
Jacqueline Collins

The word “pot” also has Spanish roots, but they’re not as nefarious. Gaining popularity in the ’30s, the nickname is a condensed version of “potiguaya” or “potaguaya,” which are short for potación de guaya, a wine or brandy steeped with cannabis buds; in English, potación de guaya means “drink of grief.” Calling the plant “weed” is more American. That word started appearing in articles and songs in the ’30s as well, used to described marijuana cigarettes. But both “pot” and “weed” came after good ol’ “reefer.”

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Send questions to marijuana@westword.com.

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