The Surprising Origins of Marijuana Slang

Do you call it weed or grass? Pot or maryjane? Do you smoke doobies or spliffs or blunts? The marijuana lexicon is rich and varied. Here are a few of the slang terms and were they came from.

Ganja:

Although it sounds Jamaican, the word Ganja actually comes from the Sanskrit word ganjika. Cannabis comes from central and south Asia and there is evidence that it was used by the ancient India and Nepal.

Spliff:

Comes from Jamaican English, the precise etymology is unknown. The first use of spliff comes from the 1930s. Some people use the word spliff to refer to a joint that is half marijuana and half tobacco.

Joint:

The use of the word joint could be derived from the practice of calling heroin works, joints after the shady establishments where one could procure such items. The word joint is still used to this day to refer to a dive bar as well as to rolled up marijuana.

Pot:

There are a couple of different theories about the origin of the term pot to refer to cannabis. One theory is that it comes from potiguaya, a Spanish word for marijuana leaves, although this seems dubious. Another theory is that it is derived from an older slang word for marijuana “tea” as in teapot.

Doobie:

Is said to come from the children’s television show Romper Room where good children were referred to as Do-Bes. The show also featured a magic mirror so perhaps it was inspired by a bit of smoke itself.

Blunts:

The name comes from the kinds of cigars that are used to wrap these joints. They were called blunts because of they had broad or rounded tips, not thin, tapered ones.

Toke:

This could be a shortening of the Spanish word “tocar” which means to touch or to play as in a musical instrument.

Bong:

Comes from the Thai word baung, a bamboo pipe, cylindrical container or tube. These have been used to smoke in Thailand and Laos for centuries.

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