Tag: Greek

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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Pairs of words that share an etymology

Unlikely couples: 8 pairs of words you didn’t know shared an etymology

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. For Valentine’s Day, we’re celebrating 8 unlikely couples… salad / salary Salad and salary obviously have a lot of letters in common, but which other word unites […]

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Street arrow two way. Does this provide a dilemma?

What is the origin of ‘dilemma’?

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 (or even between party nominees at this point in the 2016 campaign). But for word nerds like me, it’s a dilemma – which, speaking of evil, can still […]

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greece

The language of the Greek financial crisis

Europe According to Greek mythology, Europe was the daughter of Agenor and Tilefasa. She was a princess living in Phoenicia (modern day Lebanon) with her three sisters Asia, Libya, and Thrace. One day she was playing on the seaside when she saw a beautiful white bull. She was mesmerized by his beauty so she approached […]

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night sky

Pluto and its underworld minions

Pluto has special significance not only because it is the only planet in our solar system to have its status as a planet stripped and downgraded to a dwarf planet, but also because along with its largest satellite Charon, it is our solar system’s only binary planet system. In addition to Charon, Pluto has four […]

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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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Ancient Greece

Why it’s all Greek to you and that shouldn’t be a problem

“Give me a word, any word and I’ll show you how the root of that word is Greek. Ok? How about arachnophobia? Αράχνη, that comes from the Greek word for spider, and φοβία is a phobia, it means fear. So fear of spiders. There you go!” “OK Mr Portokalos. How about the word kimono?” “Hmm, […]

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Interesting words - the word squirrel comes from the Greek skiouros, meaning 'shadow-tail'

9 interesting word facts you didn’t know

The English language has a varied and ever changing vocabulary, which makes it an ideal candidate for etymological studies. In this list below, we take a look at the interesting histories of some common English words. For more interesting word facts and origins, browse our ‘Explore’ section and follow us on Twitter. 1. squirrel 2. awkward The adjective awkward is […]

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