There are 10 posts.
Like little pebbles in a stream, words get worn down with age; the more we use them, the less they come to resemble their original meanings. This is not to say we need to protect words from overuse or misuse – language is not owned by anyone, and the Oxford Dictionaries describe changing attitudes to […]more
Plump, dirty, and riddled with dimples, the humble potato rarely gets the attention it deserves — unless, of course, Peru and Chile are arguing over who produced them first. I think potatoes should fill us with a sense of awe. Hear me out. Not only can they be scalloped, mashed, and French fried, but potatoes […]more
Friday 13th has long been considered an unlucky day in the West, at least by some people; this dates back to the Middle Ages. Though it’s often treated whimsically, a word for a phobia of the day has been suggested: paraskevidekatriaphobia, by analogy with the existing word for a phobia of the number 13, triskaidekaphobia. […]more
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 […]more
The names of animals are probably among the first things learnt by a student of a language, yet knowing the names of animals doesn’t always help when it comes to their associated adjectives—in fact, sometimes it can be downright confusing. Latin-derived adjectives Most of the formal adjectives that relate to animals are not derived from […]more
Loathsome. Wretched. Horrible. These were the words used on a recent Twitter debate about a new usage. If it had gone on much longer, people would doubtless have weighed in with the other heavy hitters of language criticism: Clumsy! Infelicitous! Abomination! Why or how these new usages merit such opprobrium is never explained objectively. After […]more