Tag: word origins

Get happy with the word ‘happy’

Get happy with the word ‘happy’

From one of the first Mr Men and one of the seven dwarves to happy hour, happy is a word that crops up from childhood onwards. We take a look at how it has been used in the English language in various idioms, as well as its history and some synonyms. Happy through the years […]

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What is a mnemonic?

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number names

Fibonacci to Avogadro: numbers with names

Of course, all numbers have names of a sort, in that they can be spelled with letters – the number 43 is ‘forty-three’, the number 1,000 is ‘one thousand’. But along with all of those words for numbers, there are several numbers that have more specific names. The most famous of these might just be […]

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road expressions

On the road: expressions with the word ‘road’

Road is, of course, a pretty common word. It’s even left its mark on a couple of cult favourite novels, as I discovered when listening to somebody describing the plot of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road only to realize, when they’d rather thrown me by mentioning cannibals, that they were thinking of Cormac McCarthy’s The […]

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Words containing 'mother'

Mother’s milk, mother wit, and other words containing ‘mother’

This Sunday we celebrate Mother’s Day, also known as Mothering Sunday, in the UK: that day of the year on which mothers are particularly honoured by their children. In North America and South Africa, Mother’s Day is on the second Sunday in May instead. According to A Dictionary of English Folklore, Mother’s Day as we […]

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Maybe

15 ways to say ‘maybe’

We’ve already given you the lowdown on the many and various ways you can say ‘yes’ and ‘no’, and now we want to liven up the vocabulary of the less committed. What happens if you want to stay on the fence and say ‘maybe’? Don’t worry; we’ve got your back. Peradventure Archaic or humorous now, […]

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Angry blue painted egg

10 historical insults from the OED

Are you looking for some more creative ways to insult someone? We’ve pulled some insults from the Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) to help you out with that… 1. Flibbertigibbet A noun that describes ‘a chattering or gossiping person’ and ‘a flighty or frivolous woman’. According to the OED, flibbertigibbet is an […]

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Pairs of words that share an etymology

Unlikely couples: 8 pairs of words you didn’t know shared an etymology

Like an extended family with some unsuspected relations, sometimes you come across words which have very different modern-day meanings but unexpectedly share an etymological element in their background. salad / salary Salad and salary obviously have a lot of letters in common, but which other word unites the two? Perhaps surprisingly, it’s salt – or, […]

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