Archive for the Category: Words and phrases

Pass the funny dingdong

If someone asked you to “pass the funny dingdong”, would you know what they wanted? With the context that you are watching TV, you might have a better idea what they wanted. According to Fry’s English Delight, a programme about language on BBC Radio Four, funny dingdong is one of the many ways of referring […]

Also posted in English, Language 2 Comments

No holds barred

I came across the phrase no holds barred today and wondered where it came from. I probably have seen it written down before, but didn’t pay any particular attention to it and thought it was written no holes barred. According The Phrase Finder, this phrase comes from wrestling and refers to wrestling matches in which […]

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Hooley fuddle

This weekend I am in Dún Laoghaire for the Ukulele Hooley, Ireland’s international ukulele festival. On the way here yesterday I met some ukulele players from Yorkshire and we had a bit of a jam on the boat, and another one last night with other people who are here for the Hooley. While talking with […]

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Poor mean houses

On the bus to Conwy today I noticed that the Welsh name of one of the stops included the word teios, which I hadn’t come across before. In English the stop had the word cottages in it. I wrote down what I thought I heard and saw: teilios, but couldn’t find that in any Welsh […]

Also posted in English, Language, Welsh 9 Comments

Put the kettle on!

I discovered last night that although there is a French word for kettle – bouilloire – kettles are not common in French kitchens. More or less every kitchen in the UK, and Ireland, has a kettle, and a toaster (grille-pain) – they are considered essential equipment. However, according to a friend who used to live […]

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Spleoid

This week I came across the wonderful-sounding Irish word – spleoid [sˠpˠlʲodʲ], which appears in expressions like Spleoid ort! (Shame on you!) and Spleoid air! (Hang it! Confound it!). It is also used without the s as pleoid. Other Irish words beginning with spleo- include: – spleodar = cheerfulness, vivacity; exuberance, boisterousness – spleodrach = […]

Also posted in English, Irish, Language 2 Comments

Súilíní

I discovered an interesting word in Irish yesterday – súilíní [ˈsˠuːl̪ʲiːn̪ʲiː] – which is a diminutive form of súil [sˠuːl̪ʲ] (eye) and means literally “small eyes”, and actually means eyelets, an aperture-sight, or bubbles. For example, uisce gan súilíní is still water (“water without bubbles”) [source]. More common Irish words for bubbles are bolgán and […]

Also posted in Breton, Catalan, Cornish, Danish, English, Etymology, German, Irish, Language, Norwegian, Portuguese, Proto-Indo-European, Spanish, Swedish, Welsh 7 Comments

The Bold Step

In Hiberno-English (the English spoken in Ireland), children who misbehave are told not to be bold and might be sent to the bold step. I heard this expression being used the other day and it stuck in my mind as I hadn’t heard it before. In the UK the equivalents are usually naughty and naughty […]

Also posted in English, Language 4 Comments

Manywhere

In the Russian lesson I worked on today there was an interesting expression – много где (mnogo gde) – which is a colloquial way of saying “many places” or “lots of places”, and literally means “many where”. It’s used in the following context: – где ты был, кроме России? (gde ty byl, krome Rossii?) where […]

Also posted in English, Language, Russian 2 Comments

Coasts and competitors

Sometimes when I see new words in English or other languages I can immediately break them down into their component parts and work out their roots, but other times I just accept words as whole entities without trying to work out their derivation. One such word in Welsh is arfordir, which I hadn’t tried to […]

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