Tag: etymology

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

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double consonants

Double trouble (or accommodating doubled consonants in English)

The presence of doubled consonants in certain words can present a great challenge for students attempting to get to grips with English spelling. The sound of a word will often give an idea of whether a single letter or a double is required, but it is quite possible for two words to sound alike and […]

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

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fedora

Adore the fedora: what links an item of men’s headwear and a glamorous fin-de-siècle French actress?

Most sources agree that the fedora, the familiar soft felt hat with a curled brim and a creased crown, sported by heroes and antiheros alike in period TV and film drama—including Indiana Jones and Don Draper of Mad Men —is named after the eponymous heroine of the 1882 play Fédora, by Victorien Sardou, played in […]

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Where is the etymology of our curse words?

Swear words, etymology, and the history of English

Have you ever noticed that many of our swear words (or curse words in American English) sound very much like German ones and not at all like French ones? From vulgar words for body parts (a German Arsch is easy to identify, but not so the French cul), to scatological and sexual verbs (doubtless you can spot […]

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

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

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golden compass

The language of Philip Pullman’s ‘His Dark Materials’

Northern Lights (published in the US as The Golden Compass) was published in 1995, the first novel in Philip Pullman’s hugely successful His Dark Materials trilogy. In the preface, the author tells us that the story is set in a universe ‘like ours, but different in many ways’. One of the ways Pullman achieves this […]

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