Archive for the Category: Words and phrases

Hmyz and Hums

I came across an interesting Czech word today – hmyz, which means “insect, ant, bug, creepy-crawly”. It appears in my Czech phrasebook in the sentence, “V našem pokoji je hmyz” (There are insects in our room). It sounds like the sounds insects make, but there are other words for hum in Czech – bzučet, vrčet, […]

Also posted in Czech, English, Language 1 Comment

Fosses and Sextons

At the French Conversation Group last night one of the people had an old French language textbook from the 1950s which contains lots of stories in French. One of them contains the word “Le Fossoyeur” in the title, which is translated as “The Sexton”. As this wasn’t a word I’d come across before, I thought […]

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

How to you?

An interesting structure that came up in the Russian lesson I worked on today is Как тебе …? (Kak tebe …) or literally “How to you …”), which means “What do you think of …?”. The example in the lesson is Ну, как тебе пельмени? (Nu, kak tebe pel’meni?), which means “So, what do you […]

Also posted in English, Language, Russian 5 Comments

Suo Gân

We are learning the traditional Welsh lullaby Suo Gân [sɨɔ ɡɑːn] in one of the choirs I sing in at the moment. It’s a lovely song that was first written down in 1800, but was probably composed around before then. When I first saw the words Suo Gân I thought they might be Mandarin Chinese […]

Also posted in Chinese, English, Language, Music, Songs, Welsh 2 Comments

In the cold light of day

An interesting expression I noticed recently is in the cold light of day. It is used to indicate that you are thinking about something calmly and clearly, and you might feel foolish, sorry or ashamed for thinking or doing that something. For example “The next morning, in the cold light of day, Sam realized that […]

Also posted in English, Language 1 Comment

Dobbing in

If you heard or read that someone had been dobbed in, would you know what that meant? It’s an expression used mainly in the UK, Australian and New Zealand that means to inform on someone to the authorities – i.e. the police, parents, teachers, etc. For example, if a member of a criminal gang told […]

Also posted in English, Language 3 Comments

As pretty as a truck

An interesting French expression I learnt last week is beau comme un camion, which literally means “pretty as a truck/lorry”, and actually means pretty, cute or beautiful. Apparently this idiom appeared around the middle of the 20th century and was at first ironic, as few people find trucks pretty. However it came to mean graceful […]

Also posted in Dutch, English, French, Language, Serbian, Spanish, Swedish 2 Comments

Take the frog and run!

Yesterday I came across the interesting French word grenouiller, which literally means “to frog” and actually means “to indulge in shady dealings”, and seems to refer specifically to political intrigues, according to Le Dictionnaire. A related expression is manger / bouffer la grenouille (literally, “to eat the frog”) = to scoop the till; to clean […]

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Little donkey bridges

I learnt an interesting word in Dutch today – ezelsbruggetje (“little donkey bridge”), which means a mnemonic, which associates words and other things you want to remember with images. A number of possible origins for this word are given on ezelsbrug.nl, my favourite of which is that when donkeys were commonly used in the countryside […]

Also posted in Dutch, English, Language 3 Comments

Quatschen

I came across an interesting German word today – quatschen – which means to gab; to piffle; to talk rubbish; to chew the fat; to shoot the breeze; to blab; to yak; to squelch; to squidge [source]. It appears in a blog post in the sentence: Aber da fragt auf dem Gathering auch niemand mehr, […]

Also posted in English, German, Language 6 Comments
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