Tag: word origins

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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Clock gear set

15 words invented by authors

Inventors’ Day is typically celebrated in honour of all the great minds past and present that have come up with a process or thing that helped make our everyday lives easier. But what about those inventors of words that have enriched our lexicon with their language? Let’s take a look at fifteen authors, and the words […]

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Dad's Army

10 words you need to know before watching Dad’s Army

A while ago I tried to explain to my American colleague why the words “Don’t tell him, Pike” would bring a wry smile to any Brit’s face. I don’t think I succeeded brilliantly. If you’re not familiar, the clip below will let you know what I’m talking about – sorry for spoiling the punchline – […]

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Street arrow two way. Does this provide a dilemma?

What is the origin of ‘dilemma’?

What’s a word for ‘the lesser of two evils’? As many American voters like to joke, it’s the choice for the next President of the United States (or even between party nominees at this point in the 2016 campaign). But for word nerds like me, it’s a dilemma – which, speaking of evil, can still […]

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