Marina Orlova of Hot for Words: Today's word is bank. Everyone knows that a bank is a financial institution, but do you know how financial institutions came to be called 'banks'?
'Bank' comes from an Old Italian word 'banca' and French 'banque' (that itself derives from banca). Banque and banca both mean table. Back in the 15th century and probably earlier, moneylenders used an exchange table to conduct their business. So the word 'bank' originally referred to that table.
Around 1884, Americans took creative license as they often do and made a verb out of 'bank' meaning 'to put confidence in'. If it's 'like money in the bank' it means, or should I say, used to mean, you could really believe in it.
Bob Hope came up with his own definition "A bank is a place that will lend you money if you can prove that you don't need it."