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If you’re learning a foreign language you’ve probably been in this situation before: getting all excited about coming across a seemingly familiar word only to find out that its actual meaning is very different from what you expected. There’s no doubt that false friends – i.e. words or expressions that have similar forms to the […]more
It is assumed that the word pie came into English via Old French, from Latin pica ‘magpie’, which in turn is related to picus ‘green woodpecker’. Here, the allusion is perhaps to the various combinations of ingredients of a pie being comparable to the objects randomly collected by a magpie. Its sweet equivalent, the cake, on the other […]more
Everyone seems to have a favourite language, for one reason or another. However, it is impossible to have hard data on this matter since this preference is very subjective. Bab.la is a sister site to OxfordDictionaries.com, and the bab.la Language World Cup was launched in 2013 to find out which are the favourite languages of […]more
Pregnant was something of a metaphor when it first started being used in relation to a baby. Its earlier meaning (which is still in use) was ‘full of meaning, highly significant’, and the word pregnant began being used as a synonym for the more self-explanatory term with child. There are plenty of historical synonyms for […]more
Because there are so many food-related idioms in other languages, coming up with this list was a piece of cake for us – or a ‘bread roll with butter’ as the Polish would say. If these examples aren’t enough to whet your appetite, you can add your mustard in the comment section below. 1. Mind your own […]more
Ever found yourself trying to describe that tingling sensation when a song or work of art is deeply moving? There’s a word for that in Spanish. That sense of annoyance when you walk away from an argument and immediately realize the perfect retort? There’s one for that too, in French! We’ve put together a few […]more