Archive for the Category: Words and phrases

A Wayzgoose Chase

What do you call a printer that doesn’t work? A wayzgoose [ˈweɪzɡuːs]. A wayzgoose‽ What’s that? According to the Oxford Living Dictionaries, a wayzgoose is “An annual summer dinner or outing held by a printing house for its employees.” The Oxford Dictionaries blog says that: the wayzgoose was originally an entertainment given by a master-printer […]

Also posted in English, Etymology, Language 3 Comments

Going spooning

There’s a tradition in Wales of men carving spoons out of wood and presenting them to the ladies they love. If a lady accepts a spoon, then she and the man are considered a couple – engagements and weddings were apparently not common in rural Wales until the 18th century [source]. The websites that discuss […]

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Giggling wrigglers

I learnt a nice new German word today – kichern [ˈkɪçɐn], which means to giggle or snicker. Related expressions include: – ein Kicheranfall = a fit of the giggles – Wir haben uns darüber gekringelt = We had a good giggle about it – anfangen herumzukichern = to get the giggles This also got me […]

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Weathered pagodas and stretching times

The word for weather in Russian is погода (pogoda) [pɐˈɡodə], which sounds more or less like pagoda in English. The English word pagoda, which refers to an Asian religious building, especially a multistory Buddhist tower, comes from Portuguese pagode, which comes via Tamil from the Sanskrit भगवती ‎(Bhagavatī, name of a goddess) or भागवत ‎(Bhāgavata, […]

Also posted in Breton, Cornish, Czech, English, Etymology, French, Irish, Language, Latin, Manx, Proto-Indo-European, Russian, Sanskrit, Scottish Gaelic, Welsh 3 Comments

Partridges and pear trees

In the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas”, the gift given on the first day is a partridge in a pear tree. As partridges nest on the ground and are unlikely to be found in pear trees, this seems a bit strange to me. A possible reason why partridge is in the pear tree in […]

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Hovercrafts and eels

I like to play with idioms and sayings, and sometimes come up with new ones. The saying ‘my hovercraft is full of eels’ is very useful to know in a variety of languages, and here are some idioms based on this phrase that I was inspired to come up with this week, plus a few […]

Also posted in English, Language 3 Comments

Boxing tips

Today is Boxing Day in the UK, and there are a number of ideas about the origins of the name. The Oxford English Dictionary, for example, defines Boxing Day as: “the first week-day after Christmas-day, observed as a holiday on which post-men, errand-boys, and servants of various kinds expect to receive a Christmas-box” The earliest […]

Also posted in Danish, Dutch, English, Etymology, French, German, Greek, Language, Latin, Spanish 2 Comments

Pavement grikes

Silverdale in Lancashire, where I’m spending Christmas, sits on limestone. Whenever you dig into the ground round here you soon hit limestone, and in places where you can see it above ground, it forms what are known as ‘limestone pavements’ (see photo) in the UK. The blocks of stone within the pavements are known as […]

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Slop stones

Last night I went to a very interesting talk by a member of Mourholme Local History Society, which my mum has been part of for many years. The talk, entitled ‘Flush and Forget in Silverdale’, was about water supplies and drainage in Silverdale in Lancashire, where my mum lives and where I grew up. Silverdale […]

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Weaving applications

There was some discussion at the French conversation group last night about job applications – one member of the group has been offered a job in an international school in southern France and will be moving there soon. The word application exists in French, but it’s not the one you use when applying for a […]

Also posted in English, Etymology, French, Language, Latin, Proto-Indo-European 1 Comment
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