Tag: word origins

legal

Background checks: everyday words with legal records

Absolute privilege, ad hoc, aforementioned, affidavit, arraignment, arbitrage: the language of law can be dense, demanding, and downright intimidating, and these are just a few of the words and phrases that begin with the letter a. For all the difficulties of legalese, a great number of common words have a surprisingly legal record, so to speak. Mayhem Dating back […]

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The origin of culprit is more complicated than you might think.

The curious case of culprit

Amnesia, disguises, and mistaken identities? No, these are not the plot twists of a blockbuster thriller or bestselling page-turner. They are the story of the word culprit.   At first glance, the origin of culprit looks simple enough. Mea culpa, culpable, exculpate, and the more obscure inculpate: these words come from the Latin culpa, “fault” or “blame.” One would suspect that culprit is the same, yet we should never be […]

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10 inventions named after people

Inventors’ Day is celebrated on different days in many countries to recognize the contributions of inventors. In the US, the event falls on 11 February – the anniversary of Thomas Edison’s birth. We would like to take this occasion to explore the linguistic contributions of inventors to the English language. Browse our list below to […]

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Video: what do you call a new word made by combining two other words?

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Rome_large

When in Rome… read some place name idioms

We recently looked at people’s names in common expressions, and now it’s the turn of place names. Why do certain locations become proverbial, and which place-related idioms have fallen out of favour? Sent to Coventry No disrespect intended to the people of Coventry, but, idiomatically at least, it is not a very pleasant place to […]

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pencil

Lord Byron in the OED

Lord Byron, one of Britain’s greatest poets, was born on this day in 1788, so we thought this might be a good opportunity to trace his influence on the English language. We have consulted the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) and discovered more about Byron’s innovative use of language. While all the words listed below existed […]

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Ancient Greece

Why it’s all Greek to you and that shouldn’t be a problem

“Give me a word, any word and I’ll show you how the root of that word is Greek. Ok? How about arachnophobia? Αράχνη, that comes from the Greek word for spider, and φοβία is a phobia, it means fear. So fear of spiders. There you go!” “OK Mr Portokalos. How about the word kimono?” “Hmm, […]

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Video: what is the origin of the word vape?

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