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The Christmas lights have come down. The choruses of Auld Lang Syne have faded. We’ve dragged ourselves back to work. And for all the hopes and promises of the new year, the post-holiday blues have settled in like a cold, dark winter’s night. The third Monday in January, in fact, has been called Blue Monday, […]more
Why do some words begin with paed– in British English, but start with ped– in American English? Like many transatlantic spelling differences, this came about because British English has a tendency to preserve the spelling of words it has borrowed from other languages (such as French or Latin), whereas American English prefers to simplify, adapting […]more
Like the combining forms –phobia and –cracy, which we have discussed previously, –mania forms part of numerous English words. While it is commonly used in psychology to describe a type of mental illness, mania can also mean ‘an obsessive enthusiasm for a particular thing’ in a broader, everyday sense. But have a look at our […]more
When you’re tracing the etymology of a word, you’ll find that many roads lead to Greek. A large amount of English word do have their origins in the Hellenic language, although they might’ve entered the English via other routes. We have already looked at words ending with Greek –phobia, so this time we turn our […]more
As well as its (unfair) reputation for being bland and stodgy, British cuisine is well known for its confusingly and often humorously-named dishes. Tourists are most likely to have heard of pub classics like toad-in-the-hole, a dish of sausages baked in batter, and schoolchildren never tire of tittering at ‘spotted dick’, a suet pudding containing […]more
Of course, all numbers have names of a sort, in that they can be spelled with letters – the number 43 is ‘forty-three’, the number 1,000 is ‘one thousand’. But along with all of those words for numbers, there are several numbers that have more specific names. The most famous of these might just be […]more
Like an extended family with some unsuspected relations, sometimes you come across words which have very different modern-day meanings but unexpectedly share an etymological element in their background. salad / salary Salad and salary obviously have a lot of letters in common, but which other word unites the two? Perhaps surprisingly, it’s salt – or, […]more