Archive for the Category: Etymology

A few tips about tips

I heard some discussion on Radio Cymru this about the origin of the word tip(s). They said that in 18th century England there were boxes in pubs with the letters T.I.P.S. on them, which stood for “To Insure Prompt Service”. Gratuities were put into the boxes and became known as tips. According the Snopes.com, a […]

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Singluarity

I learnt an interesting new French word today – célibataire. When I first saw it I guessed that it meant celibate, but when I checked in a dictionary I found that while it does mean celibate, it is more commonly used to mean single. So un célibataire is a single man or bachelor, and une […]

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Les chuchoteuses

On Rue Staint-Paul in Vieux Montréal there’s a statue of three women having a gossip. It’s known as ‘Les chuchoteuses‘ or ‘The whisperers’. It’s also known as the “fat ladies talking statue”. It’s by Rose-Aimée Bélanger, a sculptor from Ontario, and was installed as part of a 2006 initiative to highlight some of Old Montreal’s […]

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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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