Tag: word origins

farm pigs

Pig, dog, hog, and other etymologies from the farm

Old MacDonald had a farm. And on that farm he had a dog. And a frog, hog, pig, and stag. Old MacDonald even had an earwig. Dog, earwig, frog, hog, pig, and stag – as well as the more obscure haysugge (‘hedge-sparrow’) and teg (‘yearling sheep’) – form a curious set of words in the English language. You’ve probably already noticed some features they have in common: they refer to […]

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Where does the expression ‘currying favour’ come from?

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railway and train phrases

Terms and phrases from trains and railways

We’ve been letting the train take the strain when it comes to moving ourselves or goods from A to B for around 200 years. Although there were locomotive steam engines (that is, engines that moved as opposed to fixed ones) in operation some years before George Stephenson’s pioneering invention the Rocket was launched in 1829, […]

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Video: what is the origin of the word ‘ye’?

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words that defined 2015 satire

From satire to transgender: the words that defined 2015, part one

As the year is drawing to a close, we have decided to take a look back at the events that shaped the past twelve months – and the words connected to them. Here is the first part of our end-of-year retrospective of the twelve words that defined 2015… satire January On 7 January, two armed […]

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mountain names

How did mountains get their names?

In August 2015, President Obama announced that North America’s highest mountain, Mount McKinley, would be renamed. Its new moniker, Denali, was actually its original Aleut name, meaning ‘the high one’. The previous name, on the other hand, only dates back to 1896 – the year when it was named in honour of William McKinley (1843–1901), who was […]

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Thanksgiving sides

The many ‘sides’ of Thanksgiving… and the English language

We may talk a lot of turkey during the holiday, but US Thanksgiving is really all about the sides. Yes, we pile our plates with mashed potatoes and green beans, but we also feast on the many other great sides the English language has to offer. From all sides During the holiday, both sides of a family may gather together out in a relative’s home in […]

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Four men playing poker.

A Five-star, Four-flusher of a Word for BSers

I’ve been drowning in bullshit, but in a good way. In my new book Bullshit: A Lexicon, I discuss common (malarkey, mumbo jumbo) and rare terms (flubdub, meadow mayonnaise) for BS and BSers. When people hear I’ve been spending my time on such a mature, humanitarian endeavor, they often ask what’s my favorite BS word. […]

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