Archive for the Category: Etymology

Savouring sapient and savvy saphiophiles

An interesting new word I came across recently is sapiophile [seɪpɪofaɪl/sapiofaɪl]. When I first saw it I wasn’t sure what it meant, but as soon as I looked it up it made sense. It means “someone who is (sexually) attracted to intelligence / intelligent people” [source]. It comes from the Latin sapiō and the Ancient […]

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Suburban bans

In French the word banlieue [bɑ̃.ljø] can refer to: 1. Circonscription territoriale qui s’étendait à une lieue hors de la ville et dans laquelle un juge pouvait exercer sa juridiction. (Territorial division that stretched a mile out of town and in which a judge could exercise jurisdiction). 2. Territoire et ensemble des localités qui environnent […]

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The elusive illusive

Sometimes you think you know a word, but when you check it, you discover that you’ve mixed it up with a similar-sounding word. That’s what happened to me this week with the words elusive and illusive. Without looking them up, do you know what they mean? When you’re searching for something but have trouble finding […]

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Peripatetic false friends

The English word peripatetic means “tending to walk about; constantly travelling; itinerant; nomadic”. It is also related to Aristotle, his philosophy, and the school of thought he founded. A peripatetic teacher is one who teaches in a number of different schools, and it’s common, at least in the UK, for music teachers and sometimes language […]

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In the Land of the Eagles

Yesterday I climbed Snowdon with other members of the Bangor Ukulele Society. We set off from Pen-y-Pass (The head/top of the pass) and took the Miner’s Track to the top, then went down the Llanberis Path. On the way up and the way down we stopped a number of times to sing a few songs, […]

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Will you be pernoctating?

If someone asked you if you were planning to pernoctate, would you know what they meant? This is a word I came across today in the blog A Linguist Abroad in a post about ‘Interesting’ Cambridge rules. It appears in the sentence: A Tutor (the pernoctating Tutor) is on duty every night and may stop […]

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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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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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Why Weihnachten?

Have you every wondered where the German word for Christmas, Weihnachten, comes from? I have, as it is so different from words for Christmas in other European languages. So I decided to investigate. Weihnachten comes from the Middle High German wīhenahten ‎(Christmas), from a dative plural ze den wīhen nahten ‎(in the holy nights). The […]

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