We all have those little in jokes with friends or family that start out with a slip of the tongue or somebody doing something foolish. Then we all mock them for a while (or are mocked for a while), and the messed up phrase or word becomes part of our daily usage.
Back in 1958, a Belgian by the name of Pierre Culliford was having dinner with a friend. He meant to say the simple phrase ‘passe-moi le sel‘ (‘pass me the salt’ in French), but got stumped on the word sel. Apparently as a result of a brain hiccup, he searched for the word he needed. He came up with the word schtroumpf instead. After being made fun of by his friend, they both began to substitute schtroumpf for regular words in everyday sentences.
Pierre Culliford was also known as Peyo, an artist particularly known for drawing cartoons. One day, he decided to introduce some little blue characters into one of his comics. They were called schtroumpf, and they, like Culliford, used the word schtroumpf in various forms for various things (especially verbs). Sound familiar? That’s right, the schtroumpf were the original Smurfs.
It just goes to show, even silly made up words among friends can catch on worldwide!
Original article: Schtroumpf.