History behind the Word, “Coupon”

Linguists have said that the English language is one of the most difficult to learn due to its many synonyms, homonyms. When one includes the many idiomatic expressions, pop culture and a love of creating new words, it is no wonder that even those who speak English as a first (an in many cases only) language have trouble using it correctly, and when it comes to spelling, the problems abound! For many, spelling issues are a result of the English language’s adoption and adaptation of words from other nationalities. For example, we have taken “cafeteria” from the Spanish, the music term “a capella” from the Italians, and “coupon” from the French. Consequently, it can be rather difficult when attempting to spell these words and others like them.

Kupon seen at Matahari Department Store

How to Spell Coupon

For those of us who struggle with spelling, one of the greatest benefits of using a computer is the spell-check program. But what if you aren’t completely sure how to begin a specific word? The word “coup-on” is one such example. Due to its linguistic background, it has been spelled (and pronounced) an assortment of ways:

  • qpon
  • cupon
  • qupon
  • kupon

Fortunately, search engines recognize these misspellings and will provide you with websites that lead to coupons for the items mentioned.

All of us are aware of what a coupon is, but have you wondered how the word originated? I did, so with a little help from etymonline.com, this is what I learned. The word, “coupon” was coined in 1822 and meant “a certificate of interest due on a bond” and came from “couper” which meant “a piece cut off.” It was not until the 1860’s that British travel agents began using the word to indicate “a discount ticket”. By the early 1900’s, the definition had been modified to mean, “A certificate or ticket which entails the bearer to a specific right, such as the redemption for cash, gifts, or reduced price.”

So, the next time you are looking for that perfect online coupon, think of how great it will be to COme UP ON a way to save some money on your intended purchase and maybe that will help you to spell the word “coupon”.

It works for me!


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