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You know that thing where you hide body parts so that a mythical creature can find them? Right? No, it’s not the premise for a supernatural serial killer drama – I’m talking about the tooth fairy, and putting your teeth under the pillow so that he/she/it will exchange it for cash. Usually these are baby […]more
We just can’t seem to outrun the demons on What in the Word?! In our last two posts for the series, we saw how the chemical elements cobalt and nickel had some unlikely goblins buried away in their roots. Here, we’re moving on from the periodic table, but our focal word is hiding a surprisingly […]more
Iona and Peter Opie spent decades recording and cataloguing children’s games, songs, folklore, and nonsense rhymes. Their lifelong fascination began one day in the 1940s when Iona picked up a ladybird and found herself automatically reciting the familiar rhyme ‘Ladybird, ladybird, fly away home; Your house is on fire and your children all gone’. A […]more
In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. . . What’s a hobbit and how did J.R.R. Tolkien come by this word? Was it invented, adapted, or stolen? To shed some light on the matter, we’ve excerpted this passage from The Ring of Words: Tolkien and the Oxford English Dictionary by Peter Gilliver, […]more