I recently ran across the word pagoda in a sense unknown to me (in the OED’s words: “A gold or silver coin of higher denomination than the rupee, formerly current in southern India”), so of course I looked it up, and found that it’s a much more complicated word than I had thought. Hobson-Jobson has a long entry beginning “This obscure and remarkable word is used in three different senses,” which you can see at Google Books here and at Digital Dictionaries of South Asia here (scroll to the bottom, and keep hitting “next page”); the OED (entry updated March 2005) has the following etymology:
< Portuguese pagode (1516 in sense 2a [an image or carving of a god; an idol], 1525 in sense 1a [a Hindu or (in later use esp.) Buddhist temple or sacred building, typically having the form of a many-tiered tower with storeys of diminishing size, each with an ornamented projecting roof], 1697 in sense 3 [A gold or silver coin of higher denomination than the rupee, formerly current in southern India]), of uncertain and disputed origin (see note below). Compare French pagode (1553 in Middle French in senses 1a and 2a; 1545 as paxode in sense 1a), Italian †pagode (1554 in sense 1a, 1587 as pagodo in senses 2a and 3; also †pagod (a1652 in sense 3), pagoda (18th cent.)), Spanish pagoda (1585 in sense 1a in the source translated in quot. 1588 at sense 1aα.; 1563 as pagode), Dutch pagode (1596 in sense 3 in the source translated in quot. 1598 at sense 3α., early 18th cent. or earlier in senses 1a and 2a; also as †pagood (1726 or earlier)), all apparently < Portuguese.
The ultimate origin of the Portuguese pagode is uncertain and disputed. It was once thought to be < Persian but-kada idol temple < but idol + kada habitation, but now seems more likely to be either < Tamil pākavata devotee of Vishnu ( < Sanskrit bhāgavata pertaining to the Lord (Vishnu), worshipper of Vishnu or the goddess Bhagavati: see below), or < Tamil pakavati (name of a) goddess ( < Sanskrit bhagavatī goddess, alternative name of the goddess Kali). Sense 3 arose from the fact that the image of the goddess was stamped on the coin (compare quot. 1598 at sense 3α.).
The stressing of the α forms has varied: ˈpagod occurs in Butler’s Hudibras (compare quot. 1664 at sense 2aα.); Pope has paˈgod as well as ˈpagod.
The initial stress in pagod can be seen most delightfully in Butler’s Hudibras (1664: “Their Classique-model prov’d a Maggot/ Their Directory an Indian Pagod”). Of the other citations, I think my favorite is:
1950 O. Sitwell Noble Essences 11, I beheld opposite.. the lean, elongated form of Lytton Strachey, hieratic, a pagod as plainly belonging as did the effigies to a creation of its own.