Archive for the Category: Words and phrases

An owlfully badgered cup of tea

Yesterday I discovered that the Italian word for cup, tazza, is rather similar and possibly confusable with the word for badger, tasso, which can also mean a rate (of exchange) or a yew (tree). It’s unlikely that if you mistakenly ask for un tasso di tè rather than una tazza di tè, you will be […]

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Also posted in Arabic, English, Etymology, French, German, Italian, Language, Persian (FarsI) 10 Comments

Sumpf

I discovered the wonderful German word Sumpf /zʊmpf/ today while putting together les mots de la semaine for this week from the French conversation group. One of the things that came in conversation was the word marsh, which is le marais or le marécage in French, and Sumpf in German, which I noticed because there’s […]

Also posted in English, Etymology, French, German, Language 8 Comments

Playing and sounding

The other day I discovered that to play in Italian is giocare or divertirsi, but if you’re playing a musical instruments the word you need is suonare, which also means to ring, sound, strike or toot. So I can say, Suono la chitarra, il piano(forte), il mandolino, il flauto dolce e il fischietto. (I play […]

Also posted in English, Etymology, Italian, Language, Welsh 13 Comments

Russian melancholy?

The other day I was trying to learn some adjectives in Russian, and noticed that there seemed to be more Russian words for sad (9) than for happy (4), at least in one dictionary I checked (bab.la). This might be a coincidence as in other dictionaries are more words for happy than for sad. In […]

Also posted in English, Language, Russian 11 Comments

Klinken

Last week I learnt an interesting Dutch word – klinken – which means to rivet, sound, ring, chime, toll, peal, knell, pledge, clink (glasses), (drink a) toast; to appear to be, seem, sound; and clinking. I particularly like the past tense forms of this word – klonk and geklonken. Here are some examples of usage: […]

Also posted in Dutch, English, Etymology, Language 3 Comments

Buiten

Tthe Dutch word buiten /ˈbœy̯.tə(n)/ is one I’ve heard quite a bit while listening to Dutch radio, and though I know what it means – outside; out of – I wasn’t sure where it came from. Today I discover that it is related to uit (out, from). Buiten also means: villa, abroad, forth, apart from, […]

Also posted in Dutch, English, Etymology, Language 8 Comments

Wirlie

In a book I read recently (one of Alexander McCall Smith’s 44 Scotland Street series) I came across a number of Scots words that were unfamiliar to me. One that I particularly like is wirlie, which, according the Dictionary of the Scots Language (DSL), means: “a place where a field-wall crosses a stream; an opening […]

Also posted in English, Etymology, Language, Scots 3 Comments

Dirks, Saxons and Messers

I discovered today that dolch is the German equivalent of dirk, the dagger that is worn in the sock in Scottish Highland dress (see photo). The dirk is known as a sgian dubh (black knife or secret knife) in Scottish Gaelic, and the word dirk, which first appeared in English as dork in the 17th […]

Also posted in Danish, Dutch, English, Etymology, French, German, Language, Proto-Indo-European, Scottish Gaelic, Swedish 9 Comments

Lucky and inspiring veins

I discovered yesterday that one way to say that someone is lucky in French is to say that they avoir de la veine (‘have of the vein’). I’m not sure why veins are associated with luck. Does anybody know. Veine also means seam and inspiration. Other expressions featuring veine and related words include: – veiné […]

Also posted in English, Etymology, French, Language 3 Comments

Fantoosh puppets

I came across the interesting Scots word fantoosh [fan'tuʃ], which is defined by the Online Scots Dictionary as “flashy, ultra-fashionable”, whicle the Dictionary of the Scots Language gives a more detailed definition: “1. Over-dressed, over-ornamented; flashy, showy; ultra-fashionable; and 2. An over-dressed person”. Related words include fantoosherie (fuss, pretentiousness, swank) and fantooshed (flashily dressed). This […]

Also posted in English, Language, Scots 4 Comments