Tag: word origins

What is the origin of silhouette, nicotine and leotard?

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husky

6 words you didn’t know were contractions

We’re all familiar with contractions. Plenty are signalled by an apostrophe and others don’t hide their origins with any notable ingenuity – such as I’m, you’re, they’ll etc. But some everyday words have dispensed with markers of their shortenings, to the extent that you may well not have realized that they ever started as anything […]

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church

Words you learn at the vicarage

I share something in common with Jane Austen, Tori Amos, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Vincent van Gogh: I am the child of a clergyman. Growing up in a Church of England vicarage has given me insights to faith, diplomacy, and how best to run a coffee morning – but it’s also a window into a very […]

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interjections

34 interjections you should be using

Perhaps the wildest of all the parts of speech, the interjection accounts for a fun swath of the English language, including curse words, expressions of joy, greetings, and even pseudo-magical incantations. Some of them you’ve probably heard before, but others will probably be new. Before you know it – bada bing! – we might be hearing these terms everywhere.

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email

5 (yet more) words that are older than you think

In previous posts, we’ve revealed the surprisingly long histories of LOL, hip-hop, fanboy, unlike, flash mob, and more. With the recent discovery that twerk dates back as far as 1820, we’ve taken another look at words which are older than you think – even if the definitions are rather different in some cases. 1. Computer […]

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Cracker Barrel entrance

What does ‘cracker-barrel’ actually mean?

Last week, a satirical petition appeared online that suggested Americans should start protesting the popular American chain restaurant Cracker Barrel, because the word ‘cracker’ is an offensive term for white people. However, what does the term ‘cracker-barrel’ actually refer to?

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night sky

Pluto and its underworld minions

Early this week the spacecraft New Horizons began its flyby of Pluto, sending a wealth of information to back to Earth about Pluto and its moons. It’s an exciting time for astronomers and those intrigued by the dark dwarf planet. Pluto has special significance not only because it is the only planet in our solar […]

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Video: what is the origin of the word ‘codswallop’?

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