Tag: word origins


34 interjections you should be using

Perhaps the wildest of all the parts of speech, the interjection accounts for a fun swath of the English language, including curse words, expressions of joy, greetings, and even pseudo-magical incantations. Some of them you’ve probably heard before, but others will probably be new. Before you know it – bada bing! – we might be hearing these terms everywhere.

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5 (yet more) words that are older than you think

In previous posts, we’ve revealed the surprisingly long histories of LOL, hip-hop, fanboy, unlike, flash mob, and more. With the recent discovery that twerk dates back as far as 1820, we’ve taken another look at words which are older than you think – even if the definitions are rather different in some cases. 1. Computer […]

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Cracker Barrel entrance

What does ‘cracker-barrel’ actually mean?

Last week, a satirical petition appeared online that suggested Americans should start protesting the popular American chain restaurant Cracker Barrel, because the word ‘cracker’ is an offensive term for white people. However, what does the term ‘cracker-barrel’ actually refer to?

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night sky

Pluto and its underworld minions

Early this week the spacecraft New Horizons began its flyby of Pluto, sending a wealth of information to back to Earth about Pluto and its moons. It’s an exciting time for astronomers and those intrigued by the dark dwarf planet. Pluto has special significance not only because it is the only planet in our solar […]

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

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All you never knew you wanted to know about the language of hawking

Among the many pleasures of reading Helen Macdonald’s moving memoir H is for Hawk is an inauguration into the arcane terminology of hawking. Mastery of this complex lexicon was a badge of social status in the Middle Ages. According to medieval legend, the terms for hawking and hunting were introduced by Sir Tristram, one of […]

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Language ‘for the birds’: the origins of ‘jargon’, ‘cant’, and other forms of gobbledygook

Infarction? Heretofore? Problematize? Cathexis? Disrupt? Doctors have their medicalese, lawyers their legalese, scholars their academese. Psychologists can gabble in psychobabble, coders in technobabble. For people outside these professions, all their jargon seems ‘for the birds’ — all too true, if we look to the origin of the word jargon and its common synonyms. Let’s cut through all the jargon, cant, patois, argot, and gobbledygook with a look at the […]

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Video: what is the origin of the term ‘brass monkey’?

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