Archive for the Category: Greek

Colds, streams and rivers

It’s rather cold here at the moment with daytime temperatures not much above freezing, and nighttime dropping to -10°C (14°F) or even -20°C (-4°F) in places. As a result, some of the snow that fell last week has frozen solid and been trampled down on pavements and ungritted back streets making them decidedly icey and […]

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Word of the day – Petrichor

Petrichor, noun, /ˈpɛtrɨkər/ – the scent of rain on dry earth. It comes from the Greek πέτρος (petros – stone) and ἰχώρ (ichor – the fluid that flows in the veins of the Greek gods), and was coined in 1964 by two Australian researchers, I.J. Bear and R.G. Thomas. The smell isn’t of the rain […]

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Carpets and harvests

I moved into my new house yesterday and am currently having new carpets fitted, which got me wondering about the origins of the word carpet. Carpet has been traced back to the Proto-Indo-European root *kerp- (to pluck, gather, harvest) via the Old French carpite (heavy decorated cloth), the Middle Latin carpita (thick woolen cloth) the […]

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Word of the day – ἀρετή (arete)

Today we have a guest post from Stephen Dunne. ἀρετή (arete), noun = meaning virtue, goodness, excellence, purity. This Classical Greek word is difficult to encapsulate precisely in English but expresses a state of almost distinguished self enlightenment. It can however mean many other things besides virtues attached to the self; the Greeks did use […]

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Votes and elections

With the UK general election coming up tomorrow, I thought I’d look at the origins of a few election-related words. Vote comes from the Latin votum (a vow, wish, promise, dedication), which can be traced back to the PIE root *ewegwh- (to speak solemnly, vow). It first appeared in writing during the 15th century. Election, […]

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Cennin Pedr

Yesterday was St David’s Day (Dydd Gŵyl Dewi), a day when many Welsh people wear daffodils (cennin Pedr) in honour of their patron saint. The daffodil (cenhinen Bedr) is one of the national symbols of Wales, along with the leek (cenhinen), and the Welsh name for daffodil means “Peter’s leek”. The leek has been a […]

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Word of the day – éolienne

One of the things we discussed at the French conversation group last night was wind turbines, or les éoliennes in French. I hadn’t heard the word before and it took me a while to work out its meaning, but I knew it had something to do with the wind as Aeolus (Αἴολος) was the ruler […]

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Noel, genes and genius

When singing the Christmas carol The First Noel the other day I started wondering where the word noel comes from. I knew noël was French for Christmas, but wasn’t sure where that came from. According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, noel comes from the Latin natalis (birth) via the Old French noel (the Christmas season), […]

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The land of rabbits

When adding more animals to the Celtic Connections section on Omniglot the other day, I started wondering about the origins of the Celtic words for rabbit – connín (Irish), coinean (Scottish Gaelic), conning (Manx), cwningen (Welsh), conyn (Cornwell), c’honikl (Breton). They appear to be related to each other, and also to the English word coney, […]

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Language and time travel

A recent commenter on my post about learning Latin, Ancient Greek and other ancient/dead languages has suggested an interesting reason for learning such languages – it’s the closest thing we have to time travel. A knowledge of these languages enables you to explore ancient civilisations and gain insights into the thoughts and lives of people […]

Also posted in Language, Language learning, Latin 12 Comments