the word came to mean any piece of good luck. American gold miners borrowed the word from the Spanish, calling the discovery of gold a bonanza. A mine in Nevada which unexpectedly turned out to be rich in gold was given the name of Bonanza.

Words and their Stories, a program about special American expressions, often known as idoms and sometimes as colloquialisms or slangs.

recently, public lotteries in the United States were illegal. But many states, now have official lotteries. Those who have a ticket with the winning number receive big prizes. What a bonanza for the winning ticket holder!

The phrase bonanza means a rich strike, a good piece of luck. The word comes from the Latin bonus meaning ‘good.’ Spanish sailors change it into ‘bonanza’ to mean good fair weather. After sailing through stormy days at the mercy of the wind, could anything be more welcome, a better piece of luck than calm waters, after being tossed about by a violent sea? For a sailor, that was the best of bonanza.

writer says that four men, James C. Flood, W.S. O’Brian, John W. Mackay and James G. Fair got so rich from the gold and silver mines of the West, that they were called the Bonanza Kings.

The word bonanza remained part of the language of the mining camps of the American West. Then, the word spread far and wide with new discoveries of gold.

In the summer of 1896, an unusually rich deposit of gold was discovered on a creek near the Klondike river in the Yukon Territory of Alaska. The miners soon call it Bonanza Creek. It was said that nuggets of gold lay loosely on top of the ground.

The word bonanza now becomes a household word across the country. The discovery in Alaska started another gold rush. Thousands of gold seekers began to head for Alaska. In April 1897, gold claims along the Bonanza Creek numbered only about one hundred and fifty. One year and a half later, in September 1898, such claims rose to seventeen thousands.

The rich discovery of gold in the Yukon made exciting news all over the world. Everybody now knows that a bonanza was a great piece of luck that accidentally fell into one’s lap.

The word bonanza is still used today although the days of gold ruches seemed to be things of the past. Now, a piece of good luck is described by a weaker word - windfall. When a man, for example, discovers that at the end of the year, he does not owe the government any more taxes, he feels as if that were a bonanza, but he just describes it as a windfall.

by VOA:

Posted by စိမ့္စမ္းေရ on Sunday, April 22, 2012


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