From worthless trinkets to misnamed chickens, here are the histories and etymologies of 12 Christmassy words. If so, then your Christmas eggnog can probably be traced back to an old Norwegian word, knagg, for a metal peg or spur. Its name comes from an Arabic word meaning “bitter.”6. MistletoeThe –toe of mistletoe is an Old English word for “twig,” but the mistle– part is much more puzzling. The rein– of reindeer, incidentally, is an old Germanic word meaning “horn.”10.