Nobody knows where the word “jazz” originated. It feels today like something that’s always been. A vivid monosyllable—like dawn, or ash. Like the color blue. It might come from the French word jaser, chitchat, or from their word for hunting, chasser. It might have been invented by Titanic-era baseball players, who called their wobbliest pitches “jazz balls.” Many scholars tie “jazz” to “jasm,” an archaic term for energy, spirit or semen. Somehow all of these explanations feel true. Jazz is dirty and spiritual; it’s playful talk and murderous pursuit; it’s a dancing object as it moves through the air. This story is from Kinfolk Issue Twenty-Four Buy Now Related Stories Music Issue 49 Tove Lo The pop star reflects on the big feelings behind her biggest hits. Arts & Culture Issue 49 Karin Mamma Andersson Inside the moody, mysterious world of Sweden’s preeminent painter. Arts & Culture Issue 49 Mass Destruction “Artists are often left baffled by the fact that they have millions of monthly streams, yet only a couple of thousand followers on social media.” Music Issue 49 Róisín Murphy Five questions for an art-pop icon. Arts & Culture Issue 49 On the Cheap The greatness of cultural worsts. Arts & Culture Issue 49 Beauty in the Beat How rhythm shapes our lives.