Archive for the Category: Latin

Purses and sporrans

The word purse has an interesting history, I discovered today. It comes from the Old English word purs, from the Late Latin word bursa, which had a number of meanings of the centuries, including skin or leather; (money) bag; scrotum; exchange; and scholarship, allowance, and comes from the Greek word βύρσα (hide, leather). bursa is […]

FacebookTwitterGoogle+Share
Also posted in English, Etymology, French, Irish, Language, Manx, Scottish Gaelic, Spanish 5 Comments

Shaking paillasses

In French une paillasse /pajas/ is a straw mattress, draining board or laboratory bench and un paillasse is a clown. The former is a combination of paille (straw) plus the suffix -asse. Paille comes from the Latin palea, from the Ancient Greek πάλλω (pallo = to shake) because you have to shake the straw to […]

Also posted in English, Etymology, French, Italian, Language, Words and phrases 9 Comments

Tables, chairs, stools and cathedrals

The Russian word for table (the piece of furniture) is стол (/stol/) which sounds a bit like stool in English. In most other Slavic languages the words for table are simliar: стол (Belarusian), stol (Croatian), stůl (Czech), stolŭ (Old Church Slavonic = throne, seat), stół (Polish), сто (Serbian), stôl (Slovak) and стіл (Ukrainian). Although in […]

Also posted in English, Etymology, French, Language, Proto-Indo-European, Russian 2 Comments

Promenades, walks and rides

In French the word promenade (f) /pʀɔm.nad/ can mean a walk: une promenade à pied; a drive: une promenade en voiture, or a (bicycle / horse / sleigh) ride: une promenade à velo / à cheval / en traîneau. You can also talk about going on une promenade en mer / en bateau (a boat […]

Also posted in English, Etymology, French, Language 5 Comments

Os

Yesterday I discovered that the French word for bone, os, is pronounced /ɔs/ in the singular, as I suspected, but /o/ in the plural [source]. Os is also used in English as a zoological and medical term for bone and is pronounced /ɒs/ (UK) or /ɑs/ (US). Final consonants of French words aren’t usually pronounced, […]

Also posted in English, Etymology, French, Greek, Language, Welsh, Words and phrases 4 Comments

Sauve-qui-peut!

One of the things that came up in conversation last night was how to say ‘to save’ in French. As is often the case, there are a number of different translations of this word, depending on the context: sauver = to save (person, animal, jewels, building etc), rescue, salvage – sauver la vie â/de qcn […]

Also posted in English, Etymology, French, Language, Proto-Indo-European 3 Comments

Gilets et camisoles

Last night at the French Conversation Group we were discussing various words for clothing in French. One word the seems to cover quite a few different types of clothing is gilet /ʒi.lɛ/, which on its own means a sleeveless jacket similar to a waistcoat (vest in American English), and apparently comes from the Maghrebi Arabic […]

Also posted in Arabic, English, Etymology, French, Language, Turkish, Words and phrases 5 Comments

Ventriloquism

There was quite a bit of talk about ventriloquism on an episode of QI I watched recently, mainly because one of the guests was a ventriloquist. The word ventriloquism comes for the Latin words venter (stomach, belly, womb) and loquī (to speak) so it means “to speak from the stomach”. It was known as εγγαστριμυθία […]

Also posted in Chinese, English, Etymology, French, German, Greek, Italian, Language, Polish, Spanish, Welsh 3 Comments

Nursery rhymes and computers

Comptine /kɔ̃tin/ is the French for nursery rhyme or for a counting rhyme or song. I learnt it last night and thought I’d look into where it comes from. According Wiktionnaire, comptine is made up of compte (count, number, account) and the suffix -ine. Compte /kɔ̃t/ comes from computus (count, number, account, calculation), from computo […]

Also posted in English, Etymology, French, Language, Music, Proto-Indo-European, Welsh Comments Off

Fence sitting

Last night I learnt the French equivalent of the English idiom, to sit on the fence (to be undecided in opinion, or neutral in action) – ménager la chèvre et le choux [source], or “to keep the goat and the cabbage”. This phrase is also translated as “to face both ways”, “to keep everyone happy”, […]

Also posted in English, Etymology, French, Idioms, Language, Proto-Indo-European 3 Comments