Archive for the Category: Words and phrases

Caledonian Antisyzygy

In the Alexander McCall-Smith novel I just finished reading, The Revolving Door of Life, the concept of antisyzygy, and particularly Caledonian antisyzygy, comes up. I had to look it up as I didn’t know what it meant or how to pronounce it. The term Caledonian Antisyzygy refers to the “idea of dueling polarities within one […]

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Ti a Chi

There was an interesting discussion this morning on Radio Cymru about the use of pronouns in Welsh. Like in many languages, there are different forms of the second person pronoun in Welsh: – ti [tiː] = you singular and informal – chi [χiː] = you plural, and formal you singular and plural – chdi [χdiː] […]

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Escroquerie

An interesting French word I learnt yesterday is escroquerie [ɛskʁɔkʁi], which means a swindle or fraud. It comes from escroquer (to swindle). A related word is escroc (villain, baddy). It probably comes from the Italian word scroccare (to eat or live at others’ expense) [source]. Other English equivalents of escroquer include scrounge, sponge, cadge and […]

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Snollygoster

I came across the wonderful word snollygoster [ˈsnɒlɪˌɡɒstə] today. It is defined as follows: – One, especially a politician, who is guided by personal advantage rather than by consistent, respectable principles. – A politician who cares more for personal gain than serving the people (Slang, USA) From: The Free Dictionary. – A shrewd person not […]

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Throats and trees

One Scottish Gaelic expression I learnt last week was “Tha craobh air mo sgòrnan” or literally “There’s a tree on my throat”. This is the Gaelic equivalent of “There’s a frog in my throat”, which is used when you are rendered temporarily speechless due to a small amphibian taking up residence in your oesophagus, or […]

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Šup!

Last week I learnt a useful Czech word – Šup! – which can mean Whoosh!, Go!, Move!, Hurry up! and similar, and Šup šup! means Chop-chop! A more polite way to say the same thing is pojďme, which literally means “Let’s (do something)”. Here are some examples of usage: – Pojďme na procházku = Let’s […]

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Llongrats!

In the comments on an article about Welsh literature I read today, I came across the word llongrats!, which appears to be a Welsh-English hybrid combining the Welsh word llongyfarchiadau and it’s English equivalent, congratulations. While it’s common for bilingual people to switch languages, often in mid-sentence, this is the first example I’ve seen of […]

Also posted in English, Language, Welsh 2 Comments

Dardledumdue

Today I came across the wonderful word dardledumdue. It means “daydreamer” in East Anglian dialect (east of England), and its origin is uncertain. Perhaps it’s the type of nonsense words a daydreamer might sing or mumble while daydreaming [source]. It also sounds like the kinds of ‘words’ some Irish singers use when lilting – a […]

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Nix and Natch

The words nix and natch have come up quite a bit in things I’ve read and/or heard recently, so I thought I’d look into their meanings and origins. Nix as a verb means “to ​stop, ​prevent, or ​refuse to ​accept something” and as a noun it means “nothing or no”. These usages are apparently mainly […]

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Pinkies

What do you call your smallest finger? I call it my little finger, but I hear more and more people in the UK calling it their pinkie / pinky, which I thought was exclusively used in North America. Is this name used in some dialects of English in the UK, or is this an example […]

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