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Open sesame

Posted by Israel izzy Cohen on July 29, 2005

In Reply to: Eeny, meeny ... posted by Bob on July 13, 2005

: : : : : : Why do we say 'open sesame'? where does it originate from and why do we associate the phrase with magic?

: : : : : It's from 'Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves,' one of the tales of Arabian Nights. See: http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/alibaba.html

That explanation is correct, but it begs the question, why did Ali and the thieves say "open sesame".

Sesame (seed) is translation of Semitic SuMSuM or SHuMSHuM, depending on dialect. So, this word was used, like Siboleth/SHiboleth, to differentiate friend from foe.

The modern Hebrew word for "password" is SiSMa, obviously related to "sesame". The thieves were simply using a suitable password.

ciao,

Israel "izzy" Cohen