Code Switch: Word Watch Each week, we take a look at a word or phrase that's caught our attention, whether for its history, usage, etymology, or just because it has an interesting story. This week, we look into how we came to call cannabis "marijuana," and the role Mexico played in that shift.

Signs marking the entrance to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota make it clear when you're literally "off the reservation," but the figurative meaning of the phrase has shifted over time. Kristi Eaton/AP hide caption

toggle caption
Kristi Eaton/AP

The Spanish word mamacita is laden with sexual overtones. The figurative translation is "hot momma" — and the moniker is never used to describe a real mother. iStockphoto.com hide caption

toggle caption
iStockphoto.com

Scottish explorer Mungo Park was among the first Europeans to view the Mandinka tribe's masked dancers who were known as Maamajomboo. He translated the word as "mumbo jumbo.' This 1797 illustration from Park's book, "Travels In The Interior Districts of Africa" shows a view of Kamalia village in Mandinka country. DeAgostini/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
DeAgostini/Getty Images

An 1852 illustration shows Snow White's evil stepmother gazing into her magic mirror. Her famous question includes an ambiguous word: "fairest." Project Gutenberg hide caption

toggle caption
Project Gutenberg

Slave auction in New Orleans, 1842, "Sale of Estates, Pictures and Slaves in the Rotunda, New Orleans." The nation's most active slave market was in New Orleans. Slaves who had been "sold down the river" were auctioned off to plantation owners. Encyclopaedia Britannica/UIG via Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
Encyclopaedia Britannica/UIG via Getty Images

The Carlisle Indian Industrial School became a model for dozens of other boarding schools for Native Americans. The government would eventually make attendance compulsory for Native children. Library of Congress hide caption

toggle caption
Library of Congress