There are 109 posts.
Following a few months working at an architectural firm, I’ve had some time to acclimate myself to the peculiar blend of jargon favored by architects. Filled not only with the technical jargon you expect from just about any licensed profession, the architecture world is also home to a bounty of words and terms that have […]more
Despite being a Nordic country (Scandinavia consist only of Sweden, Norway, and Denmark) and sharing Europe’s longest border with Russia, the Finnish language is the tall blond stranger in this company. On the origin of Finns As many of you will know, the origins of a language are not necessarily the same as the origins […]more
In May 2014, this blog briefly noted the rise of a new usage of the word thing to mean ‘generally known phenomenon’. This usage has been remarkably popular in recent years. Comedians, always alert to niceties of language, have called attention to the word’s new connotation. Recently, John Oliver introduced a new segment, titled ‘How […]more
Are you looking for some more creative ways to insult someone? We’ve pulled some insults from the Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) to help you out with that… 1. Flibbertigibbet A noun that describes ‘a chattering or gossiping person’ and ‘a flighty or frivolous woman’. According to the OED, flibbertigibbet is an […]more
Like an extended family with some unsuspected relations, sometimes you come across words which have very different modern-day meanings but unexpectedly share an etymological element in their background. salad / salary Salad and salary obviously have a lot of letters in common, but which other word unites the two? Perhaps surprisingly, it’s salt – or, […]more
What’s a word for ‘the lesser of two evils’? As many American voters like to joke, it’s the choice for the next President of the United States. But for word nerds like me, it’s a dilemma – which, speaking of evil, can still bedevil us with its horns. A history of dilemma Today, a dilemma […]more
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 […]more