Tag: Old English

farm pigs

Pig, dog, hog, and other etymologies from the farm

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 […]

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Oxford English Dictionary OED obsolete words quiz

Can you define these obsolete words?

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.

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wisdom tree

Finding wisdom in Old English

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 […]

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Why is the plural of moose not meese?

Why is the plural of ‘moose’ not ‘meese’?

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, […]

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lord_large

What are the origins of lord and lady?

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 […]

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translation

Of Cabbages and Kings: five ways to talk about translation

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 […]

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A Lego version of the hobbit Bilbo Baggins.

J.R.R. Tolkien and the definition of ‘hobbit’

In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. . . What’s a hobbit and how did J.R.R. Tolkien come by this word? Was it invented, adapted, or stolen? To celebrate the release of The Hobbit film and renewed interest in J.R.R Tolkien’s work, we’ve excerpted this passage from The Ring of Words: Tolkien […]

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tolkien

Old English and Tolkien

How well do you know Tolkien’s etymologies? As a child, my favourite film was the 1978 animated version of The Lord of the Rings by Ralph Bakshi. When I say it was my favourite, I suppose I mean that it was my only film. I just couldn’t get enough of it; it was always new […]

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