What do you think of when you hear the word “bikini?” Honestly, is it those stupid 1960s beach movies? Is it Ursula Andress from Dr. No? It almost better be, she was the first & quintessential bond girl. Are you boring & associate the word “bikini” with the word “inappropriate?” Is it any of those?

Or, rather than summer fun in the sun do you do the dork thing & associate it with nuclear weapons?

Do you want to know what I have always associated it with? You know, the guy obsessed with history. Take a guess…

You’re right, it’s totally Ursula Andress. I hear the word “bikini” & the first thing that pops into my mind is that scene when Andress is coming out of the water….but to be fair, that’s the first thing I see when I hear the word “Jamaica” It is also the first thing I think of when I hear that Mango tree song.

Bikini’s have been around since antiquity, all you need to do is look at some Greek pottery to confirm that little factoid. The modern world has, however, only recently been reintroduced to them, buy the French, in the 1950s.

Yes, those of you that associate it with the atomic weapons testing are right. That’s exactly where they get their name.

The French fashion designer that is credited for creating the fashion trend that has been around for several thousand years & still existed in one or two parts of the globe, named the bikini after the Atomic testing that had occurred only a few short…whatever before. Years? Months? I’m horrible with dates

But wait, there is more. The word Bikini is actually German. That’s right, the German’s were the people that got to name the Atoll that we tested atomic weapons on that resulted in the French creating a garment that already existed & naming it after the test site.

Bikini…German…German you say? It doesn’t sound German. Bikini. German. Bikini. German. Nope, that doesn’t sound anywhere near the German words I know:

Hot Dog
Blitzkrieg Bop
Toaster Strudel
Deutsche Mark

The only thing reasonably Bikini in Germany is their love for Bay Watch & that doesn’t really fit on the time line does it?

No it doesn’t. That’s because there is more. There is always more.

The word bikini is German, but it is because it’s the way the German’s tried to pronounce the native word for atolls.

It’s a common thing in language, we get new words because people from entirely different regions of the globe that speak entirely different languages have a hard time pronouncing &/or even spelling the native words for things.

Don’t believe me? Let’s look at a common run-of-the-mill German word & try to pronounce it. Ready? Go:


Couldn’t do it could you? Don’t worry, I couldn’t either. The rules of speaking German are nowhere near as easy as the rules for speaking Latin. They have sounds I don’t even pretend to know how to make.

The word they were trying to pronounce is actually: “Pikinni.”

The thing is, even Pikinni isn’t really correct. Because Pikinni itself is mispronounced.

It’s a common thing in language, we get new words because people from entirely different regions of the globe that speak entirely different languages have a hard time pronouncing &/or even spelling the native words for things.

Pikinni is actually the Marshallese word for something close to “covered in coconuts.” It was the word that they used to describe the atoll to the natives that already lived there & then through the course of settling & intermarrying it warped over time to Pikinni.

Coconut, right? That almost works for an island that would later turn into a beach fashion trend. Coconut…bikini…coconut…Insert dirty joke here… You know you were thinking it.

Radioactive coconuts. Take a moment to thing about what radiation did to the watermelons & heads of cabbage in Japan. Those are some massive coconuts.

Coconuts, nope, can’t open them.

If I was stuck on an island covered in coconuts…that were not radioactive…I’d starve to death because I cannot, for the life of me, open a coconut. Not without a saw & a vice…which I probably wouldn’t have on a deserted island.

So what you do when you hear the word bikini is instantly think of Ursula Andress. But the word itself has more to do with Dr. No than you’d think…radiation wise. You remember the part when Bond & Honey Ryder had to get decontaminated before they met Dr. No? Right?

Anyway, 007 aside, when you use the word bikini, you are using it to describe a fashion trend that is thousands of years old, only recently reintroduced by the French, named after an atomic test on an atoll named by the Germans who couldn’t pronounce the proper native name, which itself was a misspoken word for that the second round of serious colonists refereed to as an area covered with coconuts.

There is a ton of information stored in that one silly sounding word: “Bikini.” There are over three-thousand-years of history stored in two tiny pieces of fabric.

The bikini had to go from the ancient Mediterranean to an isolated atoll in the South Pacific Ocean, to a colonization by the Marshallese, to a discovery by the Germans, to a nuclear test by the Americans to swimwear reinvented by the French all so you have a name for what you wear to the beach.


One thought on “Bikinis & Coconuts

  1. Pingback: The Creepy Guy in the Park | Thirty With Parents

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