why is pot called pot

why is pot called pot

The Strange Etymology of the Word “Pot”

Have you ever wondered why cannabis is referred to as ‘pot’? It’s an odd name, perhaps even humorous, for a substance with such a long and interesting history. As it turns out, the origins of this word come from the 1600s and offer a fascinating insight into the culture and slang of the time.

Origins of the Term

According to researchers, the earliest use of the word ‘pot’ in reference to cannabis was in the 1690s. At this time, it was used colloquially and was often tied to the use of the substance in a social setting. Here are some possible explanations for the term’s origins:

  • Pot-valiant: The term “pot-valiant” was used to describe people who were bold and brave when partaking in cannabis use, particularly in the context of situations of poverty.
  • Potato: Due to its long, tuberous nature, cannabis has been compared to potatoes in quite a few languages, leading some to believe that ‘pot’ may have been derived from the word ‘potato’.
  • Potent: Cannabis has a long history of being used for medicinal purposes and its potency when it comes to healing is unquestioned. Thus, it is possible that the term ‘pot’ may have been derived from the word ‘potent’.


The origins of the name ‘pot’ are fascinating and offer a great insight into the culture and slang of the time in which it first came into use. While its exact origins are still unclear, it is clear why it has stuck around over the centuries and continues to be a widely used term for cannabis to this day.