Archive for the Category: Words and phrases

Blue eyes and black butter

I discovered today that the French equivalent of a black eye is un œil au beurre noir (a black butter eye). It is also known as un œil poché au beurre noir (an eye poached in black butter) or un cocard (a rosette or lesion). According to L’Internaute.com, the expressions containing beurre noir date from […]

Also posted in English, French, German, Language 2 Comments

Closing out

In the Czech lessons I’ve been working my way through I’ve noticed that the Czech host says (in English) at the end of each lesson “To close out this lesson, we would like to practise what you have just learnt.”. I would say finish rather than close out, and thought close out was a non-native […]

Also posted in Czech, English, Language 8 Comments

Carrying coals to Newcastle

An idiomatic way to say a task is pointless is to say it’s like carrying coals to Newcastle – Newcastle, in the north east of England, used to be a major coal mining area. In French the equivalent is porter de l’eau à la rivière (to carry water to the river). In German they say […]

Also posted in English, French, German, Language, Welsh 4 Comments

Llap y dwndwr – the drink of prattle

I discovered last night that an old Welsh expression for tea is llap y dwndwr [ɬap ə ˈdʊndʊr], which could be translated as meaning “the drink that makes one talkative” or “the drink of chatter”. It is also the name of a tune. The word llap means soft and wet, and appears in the expression […]

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Mardy

The word mardy came up in conversation last night, and the friends who mentioned it, who are from Yorkshire and Lancashire, said that it could mean annoying or weak. As I hadn’t heard it before, I thought I’d find out more about it. According to Wiktionary means sulky or whinning, e.g. ‘She’s being a mardy […]

Also posted in English, Etymology, Language 7 Comments

Nebuď směšný!

I came across a lovely Czech word today – směšný [‘smɲeʃni:] – which means funny or ridiculous, and sounds quite funny to me. I think it comes from smích (laughter), from the Proto-Slavic *směxъ [source] Related words include: – směšnost = ridiculousness; absurdity – směšně = ridiculously – smich = laughter – smát = to […]

Also posted in Czech, English, Language 5 Comments

Sun dribbles

While walking along by estuary of the River Dwyryd at Portmeirion yesterday, the Czech friend I was with asked me the name of the patterns in the sand and mud made by water. I wasn’t sure and suggested ripples or sand ripples. She misheard the latter and thought I said sun dribbles, which I really […]

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Nemocnice

One of the Czech lessons I studied yesterday included the word nemocnice (hospital), and though I hadn’t seen or heard it before, I was familiar with the word nemocný (ill; sick) and guessed from the context that nemocnice was a hospital. It feels good to be able to work out the meanings of words from […]

Also posted in Czech, English, Language 6 Comments

Vellichor

I came across a number of interesting words today on BuzzFeed, including vellichor, the strange wistfulness of used bookshops, and limerence, the state of being infatuated with another person. The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows defines vellichor as: n. the strange wistfulness of used bookstores, which are somehow infused with the passage of time—filled with thousands […]

Also posted in English, Language 3 Comments

Beech Tree Lane

This morning in Abergele I saw a road called Lôn Ffawydd. I know that lôn is the Welsh for lane, but wondered what ffawydd might mean as I hadn’t seen it before. Ffawydd can mean beech tree, fir tree, chestnut tree, pine tree or fir tree. It appears in such expressions as: – ffawydd Albanaidd […]

Also posted in English, Language, Welsh 5 Comments
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