Category: Word origins

London tube names

London Underground: the origins of some unusual names

Have you ever wondered how some of the more unusual sounding tube stops in London got their name? Taking a look at the origins of London Underground stations’ names is, of course, pretty much the same as exploring the origins of place names: almost all of them are named after the areas they serve. Locals […]

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month names

How did the months get their names?

As the new year starts you might have recently bought a new diary or calendar and thought ‘Where do these words come from?’ – at least that’s what I did. There is also, of course, also the chance that you have been merrily scheduling in gym appointments and book clubs and all sorts of other […]

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farm pigs

Pig, dog, hog, and other etymologies from the farm

Old MacDonald had a farm. And on that farm he had a dog. And a frog, hog, pig, and stag. Old MacDonald even had an earwig. Dog, earwig, frog, hog, pig, and stag – as well as the more obscure haysugge (‘hedge-sparrow’) and teg (‘yearling sheep’) – form a curious set of words in the English language. You’ve probably already noticed some features they have in common: they refer to […]

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Where does the expression ‘currying favour’ come from?

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Video: what is the origin of the word ‘ye’?

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mountain names

How did mountains get their names?

In August 2015, President Obama announced that North America’s highest mountain, Mount McKinley, would be renamed. Its new moniker, Denali, was actually its original Aleut name, meaning ‘the high one’. The previous name, on the other hand, only dates back to 1896 – the year when it was named in honour of William McKinley (1843–1901), who was […]

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black friday shopping

The origin of Black Friday and other Black Days

Across the US, those who are not too replete with their Thanksgiving feast will be braving the crowds in order to secure themselves one of the bargains associated with Black Friday, the day following Thanksgiving which is often regarded as the first day of Christmas shopping in the US. Even on the Thanksgiving-less shores of […]

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Thanksgiving sides

The many ‘sides’ of Thanksgiving… and the English language

We may talk a lot of turkey during the holiday, but US Thanksgiving is really all about the sides. Yes, we pile our plates with mashed potatoes and green beans, but we also feast on the many other great sides the English language has to offer. From all sides During the holiday, both sides of a family may gather together out in a relative’s home in […]

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