Abseil is a word of German origin and rhymes with style not sail.
They chose the French term for sliding down a rope whereas we chose the German. Nothing more to it than that.
Abseiling is one of those activities that appears to be enjoyed by those who do not know of its risks. Consequently, most non-climbers like it whereas most climbers do not. The reason for this is probably because most non-climbers have never done an abseil under anything but tightly controlled conditions. One abseil under normal conditions would convince them otherwise!
So why do most climbers have a dislike for abseiling? Basically it is down to two things:
- single system with no backup.
- Easy to get wrong.
However with a little thought many of the risks may be reduced, though not entirely removed.