Words for Granted

    Episode 80: Cannibal


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    The word “cannibal” comes to us by way of a familiar historical figure: Christopher Columbus. The word is ultimately a Hispanicization of the name of an indigenous American group today known as the Caribs. Through Columbus’ unreliable portrayal of the Caribs in his travel log, “cannibal” came to refer to “a person who eats human flesh.” In this episode, we explore the evolution of the meaning of “cannibal” in Columbus’ own journal and how that single word impacted the colonial history of the Americas.