Category Archives: English language

From Barbecue to Hammocks and Hurricanes: the New World’s First Gifts to English

Caguana Ceremonial Ball Courts Site – Utuado Puerto Rico – By Jbermudez at en.wikipedia from Wikimedia Commons When Columbus landed in the New World in 1492, the first humans he encountered were the Taino, an Arawak people, then the most numerous … Continue reading

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Wayward Words with Meanings That Went Astray

Cheater wearing cheaters? After Reymerswaele/ Wikimedia Commons People sometimes tell you you’re misusing a word and cite the Latin origin as proof. Don’t fall for the etymological fallacy. What a word means depends, not on its origin, but on how … Continue reading

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Fruitful Expressions or Why There Are No Plums in Plum Pudding

From sweet lemons to sour grapes, the fleshy, edible, seed-bearing parts of plants are a fruitful source of terms and phrases. “Fruit Dreams” by Judith B. Herman Pick a juicy crop here.

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Jazz, Blues & Babes: The Latest Words from 1915

 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons Terms that first appeared in print in 1915 reveal something about life a hundred years ago. Although the war in Europe left its mark on the lexicon, there are also signs of the changing times … Continue reading

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The Biggest Mystery about English Crime Shows: British Legal Terms You Meant to Look Up

Love British courtroom dramas like “Rumpole of the Bailey,” “Kavanaugh, QC” and “Silk” but a bit muddled on the difference between a silk and a stipe? Get your ducks in a row here. (Thanks to former London solicitor Dana F. … Continue reading

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Decoding British Pub Menus

Photo  Source Fancy a pudding wine? How about jugged hare and a side of rocket and baps? Bit of a muddle? No worries, luv. This glossary will set you right: http://mentalfloss.com/article/58701/28-keys-decoding-british-pub-menus

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Some Occupations You’ve Never Heard of Revealed in English Surnames

It’s easy to guess what an ancestor of someone named Cook, Carpenter, or Smith did for a living. With other occupational surnames, though, either the word or the trade has become obsolete, so the meaning is hidden. Can you guess … Continue reading

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Is This Trio of Words the Longest English Homonym?

These word pairs (and one trio) are identical, but not twins or triplets. Like the mythical doppelgangers, they were born at different times and places. Continue reading“Periwinkle 3” by Mokkie http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Periwinkle_3.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Periwinkle_3.jpg “Littorina littorea 02” by H. Zell – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Littorina_littorea_02.JPG#mediaviewer/File:Littorina_littorea_02.JPG Rosalba … Continue reading

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An Example That Defines “Humblebrag”

UrbanDictionary.com defines “humblebrag” as: Subtly letting others now about how fantastic your life is while undercutting it with a bit of self-effacing humor or “woe is me” gloss. Here’s a prime example, which I overhead last week at the Aspen … Continue reading

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Extra Lex: 14 Food and Beverage Words with Arabic Origins

An  alcoholic’s first nip of the morning may be called an “eye opener,” but who would have thought that the word “alcohol” derived from a term related to eyeliner?  Get the scoop here: http://shar.es/N9myH

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