9 interesting word facts you didn’t know
The English language has a varied and ever changing vocabulary, which makes it an ideal candidate for etymological studies. In this list below, we take a look at the interesting histories of some common English words.
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The adjective awkward is based on the Old Norse afugr, meaning ‘turned the wrong way around’. In this sense, it could be applied, for instance, to an animal that was on its back and was unable to get up.
According to OED research, an x was first used to represent a kiss in a 1763 letter from Naturalist Gilbert White.
Have you ever been told not to run in corridors? Well, corridor evolved from Latin currere ‘to run’ and actually means ‘running place’. The modern sense of ‘a long passage in a building’ dates from the early 19th century.
Clue originally meant ‘a ball of thread’. Its current meaning came via the idea of thread being used to guide somebody out of a maze.
In early use, girl was used to refer to a child or young person of either sex. The origin of the term is not known for certain, but it is perhaps related to Low German gör, meaning ‘child’.
The word computer has been used to refer to a person since 1613, to a machine since 1869, and to an electronic device since 1946.