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 […]
The word earth dates back to Old English, and its earliest meanings haven’t changed much over the course of centuries; earth still refers to the planet on which we live, and soil. If the primary meanings haven’t changed, then what other senses and nuances have been added and lost over the years? Earth to earth […]
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 […]
The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is a great source for finding fun, obsolete words. Do you, for instance, know what a lorthew is? Or what it means to be muckibus? Take this quiz and prove you’re a true logophile. Follow the OED on Twitter to learn more weird and wonderful words.
Anglo-Saxon literature is full of advice on how to live a good life. Many Anglo-Saxon poems and proverbs describe the characteristics a wise person should strive to possess, offering counsel on how to treat others and how to obtain and use wisdom in life. Here are some words in Old English (the name we give […]
As fitting as it might sound, the plural of moose is not and has never been meese. And while it is tempting to switch out -oo- for -ee-, the plural of moose is simply moose (though you may occasionally see or hear the word mooses). This confusion is understandable if you consider the word goose, […]
Old English might have English right there in the name, but that doesn’t mean that it’s familiar to speakers of English today. The original spellings of some words bear so little resemblance to how they are spelt today that they are all but impossible to recognize. And in transforming their spellings, the origins and the […]
Translation has been a crucial part of Anglophone culture from its very beginnings. The earliest English writers knew that the state of learning in England, with knowledge of Latin far from universal, meant a need for translations. Everything necessary for a rounded education was written in Latin, and so King Alfred the Great introduced a […]