Tag: word origins

culprit_large

The curious case of culprit

Amnesia, disguises, and mistaken identities? No, these are not the plot twists of a blockbuster thriller or bestselling page-turner. They are the story of the word culprit.   At first glance, the origin of culprit looks simple enough. Mea culpa, culpable, exculpate, and the more obscure inculpate: these words come from the Latin culpa, “fault” or “blame.” One would suspect that culprit is the same, yet we should never be […]

Read more »
petri dish_large

10 inventions named after people

Inventors’ Day is celebrated on different days in many countries to recognize the contributions of inventors. In the US, the event falls on 11 February – the anniversary of Thomas Edison’s birth. We would like to take this occasion to explore the linguistic contributions of inventors to the English language. Browse our list below to […]

Read more »

Video: what do you call a new word made by combining two other words?

Read more »
Rome_large

When in Rome… read some place name idioms

We recently looked at people’s names in common expressions, and now it’s the turn of place names. Why do certain locations become proverbial, and which place-related idioms have fallen out of favour? Sent to Coventry No disrespect intended to the people of Coventry, but, idiomatically at least, it is not a very pleasant place to […]

Read more »
pencil

Lord Byron in the OED

Lord Byron, one of Britain’s greatest poets, was born on this day in 1788, so we thought this might be a good opportunity to trace his influence on the English language. We have consulted the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) and discovered more about Byron’s innovative use of language. While all the words listed below existed […]

Read more »
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, […]

Read more »

Video: what is the origin of the word vape?

Read more »
time travel large

10 words that came to life 100 years ago

As 2014 draws to a close, we thought we’d take a look at some of the words celebrating their 100th birthday this year. While some of these may be antedated if older examples are found, the earliest evidence currently in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) for each of the words below is 1914. So, join […]

Read more »

Tweets