Tag: Latin

Our A-Z list of instruments

An A-Z list of instruments

Check out our alphabetic list of instruments, from accordion to zither. As far as possible, we’ve tried to stick to common instruments you’ll already have heard of – but some of the letters proved more challenging… Accordion Accordion is from the German Akkordion, a derivative of Akkord ‘harmony’, and so named because some of the buttons on […]

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tightrope walker

Tightrope walking and ambulances: what do they share in common?

In the early hours of 7 August 1974, after six years of planning and months of subterfuge, Philippe Petit stepped out onto a high wire between the twin towers of the World Trade Centre in New York. A crowd of thousands gathered to watch the breathtaking 45 minute display, as Petit walked, danced, and even […]

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Is data plural or singular or both?

What is the plural of data?

Your data was corrupted… Wah! First thought: I’ve lost some work. Second thought: shouldn’t that be ‘…data were corrupted’? In the strictest sense, yes, because it’s all a question of ensuring that you match singular subjects with singular verbs, and ditto plural subjects and verbs, a process called agreement. Easy when it’s a straightforward case, such […]

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romans

English words of Latin origin

An extract from the Oxford Dictionary of Word Origins. As well as education, wine, roads, under-floor heating, and the fresh water system, the Romans gave us words and phrases. Far from being a dead language, Latin is alive and well, and may be found in a sentence near you. English is full of words of […]

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There are medical terms for even common ailments.

10 medical terms for common ailments

As anyone who has taken an anatomy class or tried to read a prescription may attest, it can be difficult to interpret those long, Greek- and Latin-based medical words! However, sometimes these complicated-sounding words hide a simple meaning. So, while we could sit here and define rare terms like latissimus and pharmacopoeia, it seems more interesting […]

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Do you know the meaning of expecto patronum? Explore this and other Latin origins of Harry Potter spells.

The classical roots of Harry Potter’s magical spells

It is no secret that the Harry Potter series is heavily influenced by the classics. JK Rowling studied Latin as a subsidiary subject at the University of Exeter, and often draws upon classical myth, rhetoric, and nomenclature in her writing. In particular, Rowling usually draws her magical words from classical Latin, and many of the […]

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Chaucer

How many Chaucers does it take to change a language?

After 600 years, what do we think of when we hear the name Geoffrey Chaucer? The straightforward, factual answer – that he was the son of London wine merchant, born sometime in the 1340s, who spent his life, after youthful forays to the French wars and diplomatic missions, working as a civil servant and building up […]

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connections homonyms

Economical English: the hidden connections between homonyms

English is famous for being littered with synonyms. Sometimes the number of words we have for a single thing seems almost greedy (not to mention extravagant, hedonistic, decadent, lavish, immoderate, ostentatious, and sybaritic). The dual threads of Germanic and Romance languages that form the basis of the English lexicon are largely to blame for its […]

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