Archive for the Category: Latin

Flutes and buckles

Six weeks ago today I had a slight mishap while ice skating in London, and managed to dislocate and fracture my ankle – both the tibia (shin bone) and fibula (calf bone). The word tibia comes from the Latin tībia (shin bone, leg). It originally referred to a stalk, or reed pipe, and came to […]

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Harmony-loving chorus

Last night I went to an excellent concert at the Pontio Arts Centre featuring the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and the brilliant harpsichordist, Mahan Esfahani. As well as enjoying the concert, I started thinking about the word philharmonic – what it means, where it comes from, and why it features in the names of many […]

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For the past several years

Does anything strike you as odd about the title of this post? I came across this wording today in a book by an American author, and immediately thought, “don’t you mean ‘for the past few years’?”. For me that would be a more natural way to express this. Several in this context just sounds wrong. […]

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Heartsease

Heartsease, or heart’s-ease, is one of the names for the pansy (see photo), both garden and wild varieties. This name apparently comes from St. Euphrasia, whose name means ‘cheerfulness of mind’ in Greek. Other names for the garden pansy, or Viola tricolor hortensis / Viola x wittrockiana, include: viola, violet, love in idleness, or kiss-me-quick. […]

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National Motto(e)s

Created with The Keep Calm-O-Matic Do you know your country’s national motto? Not all countries have them. Many are in Latin and other ancient languages, and most are a bit bland and include things like freedom, liberty, unity, strength, work, progress, God, etc. Here are some more interesting ones: – Isle of Man (Latin): Quocunque […]

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Protagonists and sidekicks

When listening to The Allusionist podcast today I learnt an interesting word – tritagonist, who was the actor who played the third role in ancient Greek drama. Tritagonist comes from the Ancient Greek word τρίτἀγωνιστής (triagōnistḗs), from τρίτ ‎(third) and ἀγωνιστής ‎(combatant, participant). The actors who played the first and second roles in ancient Greek […]

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A Tragic Goat Song

How is the word tragedy connected to goats and songs? The answer is that tragedy comes ultimately from the Ancient Greek word τραγῳδία ‎(tragōidía – epic play, tragedy) which comes from τράγος ‎(trágos – male goat) and ᾠδή ‎(ōidḗ, – song). Apparently the goat reference comes from satyrc drama, which featured actors dressed in goatskins […]

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Weathered pagodas and stretching times

The word for weather in Russian is погода (pogoda) [pɐˈɡodə], which sounds more or less like pagoda in English. The English word pagoda, which refers to an Asian religious building, especially a multistory Buddhist tower, comes from Portuguese pagode, which comes via Tamil from the Sanskrit भगवती ‎(Bhagavatī, name of a goddess) or भागवत ‎(Bhāgavata, […]

Also posted in Breton, Cornish, Czech, English, Etymology, French, Irish, Language, Manx, Proto-Indo-European, Russian, Sanskrit, Scottish Gaelic, Welsh, Words and phrases 3 Comments

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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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 […]

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