Archive for the Category: Words and phrases

Just popping out

A interesting English expression I’ve noticed in novels I’ve been reading recently is the verb to pop, which is often accompanied by prepositions such as out, in, round and down, and preceded by just. For example: – I’m just popping out to the shop, do you want anything? – I might pop in at some […]

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Also posted in English, Language 5 Comments

Klunen

I learnt an interesting word from a Dutch friend today – klunen – which refers to the action of walking on the ground in ice skates, something you might do while you’re skating along a frozen canal and come to a bridge you can’t go under, either because it’s too low, or the ice under […]

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Also posted in Dutch, English, Language 9 Comments

Zženštilý

I came across the Czech word zženštilý yesterday among translations of soft and the pile up of consonants got me wondering whether it was a real word or a typo. I discovered that it is a real word and means: soft, epicene, girly-girly, namby-pamby, nance, effeminate, effeminize, emasculate, pansy, soft, softish, unmanly, womanish, womanlike, sissified […]

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Also posted in Czech, English, Language 6 Comments

Vituperation

When searching for a translation of a Czech song we’re learning in the Bangor Community Choir I came across the word vituperated. It’s not one I’d heard or seen before, see I had to look it up. It means “to abuse or censure severely or abusively, to berate; to use harsh condemnatory language”. It comes […]

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Also posted in Czech, English, Etymology, Language, Latin, Songs 4 Comments

What makes a word “real”?

I came across an interesting TED talk today about how words become real. Are they only real when they start appearing in dictionaries, or are they real if they are widely used, even if they don’t feature in dictionaries? The speaker, Professor Anne Curzan, looks at who makes dictionaries and how they decide which words […]

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Also posted in English, Language 3 Comments

Hedgehogs and Urchins

I discovered today that sea urchins (echinoidea) are known as zee-egels (sea hedgehogs) in Dutch, and that they used to be known as sea hedgehogs in English as well. They have similar names in other languages, for example, in German they are Seeigel (sea hedgehogs), in French they are oursins or hérissons de mer (sea […]

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Also posted in Dutch, English, French, German, Language, Latin, Proto-Indo-European, Spanish 3 Comments

Haps and Mishaps

A mishap is “an unlucky accident”, according to the Oxford Dictionaries, and is often accompanied by the word minor – e.g. we had a few minor mishaps in the kitchen, but at least we didn’t burn the chicken. I happened upon the word mishap today and it got me wondering whether the word hap also […]

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Also posted in English, Etymology, Language, Old Norse, Proto-Indo-European, Russian 2 Comments

Pufflings

The other day I discovered that a young puffin is known as a puffling, which I really like the sound of. There are a few other words that include the -ling suffix that are commonly used: sibling, duckling, underling, earthling, seedling, yearling (an animal that is between one and two years old) – can you […]

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Also posted in English, Language 5 Comments

You lucky sausage!

According to a friend who lives in Manchester, a common expression there is “You lucky sausage!”, which is used when someone has some (unexpected) good luck. For example, if you won a prize in a competition, your friends might say, “You lucky sausage you!”. I hadn’t heard this expression before and neither has anybody else […]

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Also posted in English, Language 5 Comments

Noogies

A interesting word that comes up sometimes in American books I read is noogie [ˈnʊɡi], which is used in the context of one person giving someone else a noogie. The people involved are usually kids, and it sounds like a somewhat unpleasant experience, though until I looked it up, I didn’t know exactly what the […]

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Also posted in English, Language 5 Comments