Category: Word origins

phrases with run

6 ‘run’ phrases you probably don’t know

The word run might mean many different things to you. Personally, it makes me figuratively run for the hills, such is my feeling about exercise. Run might also make a lexicographer blanch; it is a strong contestant for the verb with the most meanings, at over 650 (this of course includes phrases and phrasal verbs). […]

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name origins

8 names that were invented by authors

Let’s have a look at authors whose creations were influential outside of their literary traditions – specifically, at the names they have coined or popularized. You knew that Shakespeare has had, you know, a fairly large impact on the English language, but you might be surprised to learn that he’s made a surprising contribution to […]

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6 earth expressions for Earth Day

6 earth expressions for anyone who loves Planet Earth

The word earth dates back to Old English, and its earliest meanings haven’t changed much over the course of centuries; earth still refers to the planet on which we live, and soil. If the primary meanings haven’t changed, then what other senses and nuances have been added and lost over the years? Earth to earth […]

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Turn over a new leaf

8 unexpected origins of everyday phrases

Let’s take a look at some phrases whose origins might not be quite what you think… 1. Pass the buck We all know that buck is informal American English for a dollar. Indeed, it can also be used for an Australian dollar, a New Zealand dollar, a South African rand, and an Indian rupee – […]

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Shambles

The shambolic life of ‘shambles’

You just lost your job. Your partner broke up with you. You’re late on rent. Then, you dropped your iPhone in the toilet. “My life’s in shambles!” you shout. Had you so exclaimed, say, in an Anglo-Saxon village over 1,000 years ago, your fellow Old English speakers may have given you a puzzled look. “Your […]

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Get happy with the word ‘happy’

Get happy with the word ‘happy’

From one of the first Mr Men and one of the seven dwarves to happy hour, happy is a word that crops up from childhood onwards. We take a look at how it has been used in the English language in various idioms, as well as its history and some synonyms. Happy through the years […]

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What is a mnemonic?

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number names

Fibonacci to Avogadro: numbers with names

Of course, all numbers have names of a sort, in that they can be spelled with letters – the number 43 is ‘forty-three’, the number 1,000 is ‘one thousand’. But along with all of those words for numbers, there are several numbers that have more specific names. The most famous of these might just be […]

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