This post is inspired by an email that I received from a good, linguistically-inclinded friend. Thanks, A!
The phrase “Eureka, I found it!” is often attributed to Archimedes, the ancient Greek scholar, when he noticed the displacement of water when he stepped into his bathtub, which, legend tells us, became the starting point of his buoyancy principle. Legend also states Archimedes jumped out of the bathtub and ran around Ancient Syracuse naked yelling “Eureka!”.
“Eureka” is also California’s state motto and appears on the state seal. In this instance, it refers to the discovery of gold near Sutter’s Mill in 1848.
Now for the language nerds amongst you, the word “eureka” means “I found” in Ancient Greek coming from the present tense “eurisko”, or “I find”. The irregular conjugation can still be found in Modern Greek, as the words for “I find” and “I found” are respectively (and transliterated from the Greek alphabet) “vrisko” and “vreka”.
And one final bit of trivia: California is the only state with a Greek word in its motto.