Archive for the Category: English

Hovercrafts and eels

I like to play with idioms and sayings, and sometimes come up with new ones. The saying ‘my hovercraft is full of eels’ is very useful to know in a variety of languages, and here are some idioms based on this phrase that I was inspired to come up with this week, plus a few […]

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Boxing tips

Today is Boxing Day in the UK, and there are a number of ideas about the origins of the name. The Oxford English Dictionary, for example, defines Boxing Day as: “the first week-day after Christmas-day, observed as a holiday on which post-men, errand-boys, and servants of various kinds expect to receive a Christmas-box” The earliest […]

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Pavement grikes

Silverdale in Lancashire, where I’m spending Christmas, sits on limestone. Whenever you dig into the ground round here you soon hit limestone, and in places where you can see it above ground, it forms what are known as ‘limestone pavements’ (see photo) in the UK. The blocks of stone within the pavements are known as […]

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Slop stones

Last night I went to a very interesting talk by a member of Mourholme Local History Society, which my mum has been part of for many years. The talk, entitled ‘Flush and Forget in Silverdale’, was about water supplies and drainage in Silverdale in Lancashire, where my mum lives and where I grew up. Silverdale […]

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Weaving applications

There was some discussion at the French conversation group last night about job applications – one member of the group has been offered a job in an international school in southern France and will be moving there soon. The word application exists in French, but it’s not the one you use when applying for a […]

Also posted in Etymology, French, Language, Latin, Proto-Indo-European, Words and phrases 1 Comment

Seeking diegesis

I learnt an interesting new word the other day – diegesis [ˌdaɪəˈdʒiːsɪs], which, according to Wikipedia means: a style of fiction storytelling that presents an interior view of a world in which details about the world itself and the experiences of its characters are revealed explicitly through narrative, and the story is told or recounted, […]

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Stitching Mail

I learned an interesting French word last night: maille [maj], which means stitch or mesh and appears in such expressions as: – maille à l’endroit = plain stitch – maille à l’envers / tombée / coulée = purl stitch – maille Jersey = stocking stitch – doublure maille = mesh lining – maille du tricot […]

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Why is it I and not i?

Have you ever wondered why the first person pronoun in English (I) is always written as a capital letter? I was asked about this the other day and though I would investigate. According to a blog post on, it came about as a bit of an accident. In Old and Middle English the equivalent […]

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Scratching cartoons

The first cartoons, in the sense of humorous or satirical drawings, appeared in the magazine Punch in 1843, however the word was used from the 1670s to mean “a drawing on strong paper (used as a model for another work)”. Cartoon can also mean: – An artist’s preliminary sketch. – An animated film – A […]

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Unfolding developments

The word for to develop in Welsh is datblygu, which is a combination of dad (un-) and plygu (to fold), so Welsh developments “unfold”. Datblygu also means “to evolve; reveal, disclose, display. to unfold, unwrap, unfurl, unroll, spread out.” Plygu means “to (cause to) bend, deflect, bow, stoop, refract (light); fold, wrap. to subdue, subjugate, […]

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