Exaggeration is a word with rich, interesting history. While
linguists and historians are still not entirely certain exactly how it
entered the English language, various theories exist.
A popular hypothesis is that it is a descendent of Latin exaggerat,
meaning «heaped up». Etruscan ehsakkura or ekzakkera is conjectured
to mean «sharp heaping bosoms of God», (a direct reference to the specifically
Etruscan variation of the creation myth). This root (ex[k]ak) is
also found in Latin exactus, Russian oskolok (sharp large
part), and the brand name Exacto Knife ® (obvious connections to exact
-- sharp, precise, drive out) can be made.
The Etruscan reference to the «divine mammae» in ekzakkera, comes from
Akkadian ziggurat or ziqqurat, naming an ancient Mesopotamian
temple tower, usually of huge proportions; and also the jargon term for
«breasts» used by travelling merchants to describe the «gifts» of courtesans
travelling with the caravans.
It is thought that ziggurat in the meaning relevant here was
brought into ancient Europe by some of the farther-reaching caravans. The
word ziggurat itself accounts for various interesting descendents
found in the modern English, cigar and sugar are only two
of the well-known ones.
The architecture of a ziggurat involved a relatively small sanctuary
on the very top of the pyramidal structure, inaccessible to all community
members but the ancient Akkadian priests, and the root zigga has
come to mean small, desired, limited-access items.
It is thought that the root zigga (or, originally zigga-zigga)
was introduced into the human language sometime around 1700 BC from imitating
the sounds made by the now completely extinct bird praemonitus pramunitis
(a relative of the common swallow).