Archive for the Category: Words and phrases


I learned an interesting new word from the radio yesterday – sniglet – which is defined as “any word that doesn’t appear in the dictionary, but should”. It was apparently popularized by the comedian/actor Rich Hall while he was working on Not Necessarily the News, an HBO comedy series from the 1980s, who has also […]

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Awaken the Appetite

A ragout is a highly seasoned meat and vegetable stew, and comes from the French ragoût, which appears to be a general word for stew. Ragoût comes from the Middle French ragoûter (to awaken the appetite), which comes from the Old French re- (back), à (to) and goût (taste), from the Latin gustum (taste), from […]

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Sgimilearachd [sgʲimɪlɛrəxg], noun = habit of visiting other people at mealtime; intrusion (from: Am Faclair Beag) Alternative definition: Obtrusiveness, impudence, intrusion; Mean habit of popping in upon people at meals, living and doing nothing about, gentlemen’s kitchens. (from: Am Faclair Dwelly) This is one of the interesting Scottish Gaelic words I learnt from this blog […]

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I came across a new word yesterday – adumbrations – which I had to look up in a dictionary as I couldn’t work out its meaning from the context: Framed in the archway formed by the far end of the vaulted roof were the fantastical forms of five great gasometers, the supporting superstructures of which […]

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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 […]

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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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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 = […]

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