Tag: word origins

Country name origins

An A-Z of country name origins

We’ve taken on an ambitious task today: we’re looking at the origin stories behind the names (in English) of every single country in the world – using the list of countries as determined by the UN and information from the Oxford Concise Dictionary of World Place-Names. From Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, discover surprising and intriguing language […]

Read more »
A large number of birds received their names through the imitation of their cries.

5 surprising origins of common bird names

A large number of birds received their names through the imitation of their cries. The cuckoo is an obvious example of such an onomatopoeic naming, and so are the owl, the cockatiel, and many more. Some bird names, however, have a more intriguing linguistic history. Here we take a look at a few examples. Magpie […]

Read more »
phrases with run

6 ‘run’ phrases you probably don’t know

The word run might mean many different things to you. Personally, it makes me figuratively run for the hills, such is my feeling about exercise. Run might also make a lexicographer blanch; it is a strong contestant for the verb with the most meanings, at over 650 (this of course includes phrases and phrasal verbs). […]

Read more »
The Jungle Book

Rudyard Kipling and The Jungle Book in the Oxford English Dictionary

“I am, by calling, a dealer in words; and words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.”  Rudyard Kipling’s linguistic legacy is apparent from the more than 2500 quotations from his works that appear in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED); the term Kiplingism even has its own entry. This turns out to […]

Read more »
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 […]

Read more »

What is a mnemonic?

Read more »
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 […]

Read more »
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 […]

Read more »

Tweets