Tag: word origins

freud

Say one thing and mean your mother: the language of Freudianism

It is difficult to realize, from a distance of nearly a century, quite the impact that Sigmund Freud and his theories had upon polite society of the 1920s and ‘30s. The novelist D.H. Lawrence wrote that ‘the Oedipus complex was a household word, the incest motive a commonplace of tea-time chat’, and popular guides to […]

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tiramisu

How Good Housekeeping appears in the OED

Your first thought, when you think of the magazine Good Housekeeping, might not be that it is a source for lexicographers. Founded in the US on 2 May 1885, it perhaps brings to mind recipes, health tips, and pieces about fashion – all of which is true, although you might not know that it has […]

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earth

Earth Day: a world of words

Environmentalism has become something we are all aware of – continuing to work to “cherish our green inheritance”, as the noted naturalist Sir David Attenborough described it – and this is reflected in the changing use of related language. Eco origins For example, the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) records a huge number of terms formed […]

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jeans

Can -core survive normcore?

What do President Obama, Steve Jobs, and the Toyota Camry have in common? In recent weeks all three have been described as “normcore,” a supposed fashion trend in which the sartorial elite eschew their usual sui generis styles for dowdy clothing of the type ordinary people wear. The concept may have originated as satire, but […]

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1920s words include 'makeover' and 'it girl'.

20 words from the 1920s

The 1920s wasn’t just a period of decadence and flappers in a post-war haze of happiness. (‘Flapper’, by the way, emerged before the 1920s – lexicographer Allan Metcalf has nominated it as Word of the Year 1915.) While The Great Gatsby drew attention to a world of insouciant pleasure-seeking, the 1920s also saw plenty of […]

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golf

Birdies, bogeys, and baffies: the language of golf

Golfing jargon can seem rather arcane to the uninitiated, so here is a short guide to help you navigate the bunkers and water hazards of golf language. Competitors will be aiming to make par – the standard number of shots allowed for each hole (from the Latin for ‘equal’) – hence the expression ‘par for the […]

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theatre

From early doors to blood-tub: language relating to theatre

The lure of the greasepaint has long attracted people, from Mrs Worthington’s daughter to the latest contestants on reality shows to pick the next star of a West End remake. So on World Theatre Day, await the swish of the curtain, don’t let the super troupers blind you, and get ready to tread the boards […]

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artichokes

Artichokes to zucchinis: a vegetarian alphabet

I’ve been a vegetarian for a little over half my life, and I know certain struggles that vegetarians have to put up with. But one area we don’t struggle with is language. I decided to take a mosey through various words connected with vegetables and vegetarianism, and discovered that the produce aisle at the supermarket […]

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