What does it mean by a cup of joe?
One possible origin lies in the birth of America's taste for coffee, which developed in the 19th century after tea was no longer available from British merchants. The phrase may have come into the American English language via a misunderstanding of the French word chaud, which means "hot" and is pronounced similarly.
"Cup of joe" is an American nickname for coffee. The phrase goes back to the mid-eighteen forties, and is of unclear origin, though it is possibly short for "Old Black Joe," the title of a popular Stephen Foster song.
"Joe" is related to either the use of Joe as the common man (coffee is the common man's drink) or as a derivative of Java.
According to Mavens' Word of the Day, the leading theory connects the nickname to an 1860 song by Stephen Collins Foster, "Old Black Joe." The American Heritage Dictionary seems to agree. However an examination of the lyrics results in no mention of a morning beverage.
Another theory holds that the beverage was nicknamed after Admiral Josephus "Joe" Daniels, who was secretary of the U.S. Navy during World War I. He abolished the officers' wine messes in 1914, resulting in "dry" ships. But World Wide Words pours cold water on that idea, arguing the phrase "cup of joe" first appeared in print in 1930.
World Wide Words leaves us with one last suggestion. The name could have been a modification of java or jamoke, which were other names for coffee. It could also have been influenced by expressions at that time, such as "an ordinary Joe."
Whatever the real story, next time you're ...more