Tag: word origins

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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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Samba School parade in Sambodromo.

12 essential words for the Brazilian carnival

The carnival in Rio de Janeiro kicks off on 5 February, so the next five days will once again see the Brazilian city playing host to seductive rhythms and scantily clad dancers. For this occasion, we’ve dived into the colourful vocabulary of the Brazilian carnival and came up with a list of words that we […]

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pies and cakes in English idioms

Pies and cakes in English idioms

It is assumed that the word pie came into English via Old French, from Latin pica ‘magpie’, which in turn is related to picus ‘green woodpecker’. Here, the allusion is perhaps to the various combinations of ingredients of a pie being comparable to the objects randomly collected by a magpie. Its sweet equivalent, the cake, on the other […]

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London tube names

London Underground: the origins of some unusual names

Have you ever wondered how some of the more unusual sounding tube stops in London got their name? Taking a look at the origins of London Underground stations’ names is, of course, pretty much the same as exploring the origins of place names: almost all of them are named after the areas they serve. Locals […]

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month names

How did the months get their names?

As the new year starts you might have recently bought a new diary or calendar and thought ‘Where do these words come from?’ – at least that’s what I did. There is also, of course, also the chance that you have been merrily scheduling in gym appointments and book clubs and all sorts of other […]

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words that defined 2015 part two

From austerity to refugee: the words that defined 2015, part two

In late December, we took a look at satire, transgender, and other words that defined the first six months of 2015. Here’s the second and final part of our end-of-year roundup. austerity July The ongoing drama of the troubled Greek economy entered its final phase in the month of July this year when the governing […]

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