Archive for the Category: Greek


Sproange /spɒˈrændʒ/ is another name for the sporangium /spɒˈrændʒɪəm/ of a plant, which the OED defines as “a receptacle containing spores; a spore-case or capsule.” Sporange comes via Latin from the Greek σπορά spore + ἀγγεῖον (vessel). Sporange is also the only English word that rhymes with orange, a factoid I discovered on Lexiophiles, which […]

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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, […]

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I came across the word doxastic (/dɒkˈsæstɪk/) today in Being Wrong – Adventures in the Margin of Error by Katryn Schulz. It means “pertaining to beliefs” and appears in the expression used in philosophy, ‘First Person Constraint on Doxastic Explanation’, or as Schulz terms it ”Cuz It’s True Constraint’. It means that we have only […]

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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 […]

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I came across the word epizeuxis recently (in One of Our Thursdays is Missing, by Jasper Fforde) and wasn’t sure what it meant or even how to pronounce it, so I decided to find out. According to the OED, epizeuxis (/ɛpɪˈzjuːksɪs/) is “a figure by which a word is repeated with vehemence or emphasis.” It […]

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Yesterday I discovered an interesting new word – occlupanid, which is defined by the Holotypic Occlupanid Research Group as follows: “Occlupanids are generally found as parasitoids on bagged pastries in supermarket biomes, although a few species are found on vegetables and bulk grains, and one notable species (Uniporus) is found exclusively on vent tubing bags. […]

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Pandora’s banjo

Last night a friend asked me about the origins of the word banjo. I wasn’t sure, so I did some investigating and discovered that banjo comes from the word bandore as pronounced by African slaves – ban’jōre, ban’jō. A bandore (/bænˈdɔə(r)/ /ˈbændɔə(r)/) is “a musical instrument resembling a guitar or lute, with three, four, or […]

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Flame of the woods

Lasair choille or ‘flame of the woods’ is the Irish name for the goldfinch (carduelis carduelis), two of which I saw on my apple tree this morning. I like to know the names of birds and other creatures in the my languages, and particularly liked the Irish version when I discovered it. The Irish word […]

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I heard the word rheithgor (/ˈr̩əiθgɔr/) on Radio Cymru this morning in the context of a report on a trial, and guessed that it meant ‘jury’. The second element, gor, comes from côr (/koːr/) (choir, circle), and the first element, rheith, appears in such words as rheithfawr (greatly just), rheithiad (regulation), rheithio (to fix a […]

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Honey apples and quince cheese

A recent discussion with a friend got me wondering about the differences between jam, jelly, conserve and marmalade and the origins of these words. I discovered that in some varieties of English and in other languages some or all of these words can be used interchangeably, for example in American English jelly can refer to […]

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