Archive for the Category: Etymology

Scratching cartoons

The first cartoons, in the sense of humorous or satirical drawings, appeared in the magazine Punch in 1843, however the word was used from the 1670s to mean “a drawing on strong paper (used as a model for another work)”. Cartoon can also mean: – An artist’s preliminary sketch. – An animated film – A […]

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Parched torrents

Quite a lot of rain has fallen over the past day or so in the UK, thanks to Storm Angus, so I thought I’d look at the origins of some rain-related words. The word rain comes from the Old English rēn/reġn ‎(rain), from the Proto-Germanic *regnaz ‎(rain), possibly from the Proto-Indo-European *Hreǵ- ‎(to flow) or […]

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A Piece of Theatre

In French the word for play, as in a theatrical production, is pièce or pièce de théâtre. Pièce also means: – a room – a part (of a mechanism or machine) – a coin – a patch (on clothes) – a document – a piece, as in a one-piece swimsuit or a twelve-piece dinner service. […]

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Bants

Today I came across word that’s new to me – bants – which, according to the Oxford Dictionaries, means: Playfully teasing or mocking remarks exchanged with another person or group; banter. It’s also written bantz, and is an abbreviation of banter, a word of unknown origin which first appeared in writing in 1676 in a […]

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Trumped

For some reason I thought I’d look into the word trump today. It has a number of meanings: 1. trump (noun): the suit, in a game of cards, that outranks all others; a playing card of that suit; something that gives one an advantage, especially one held in reserve. Etymology From triumph, from the French […]

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Romance and Horses

What does romance have to do with horses? Well, the word romance has a number of meanings: – A story relating to chivalry; a story involving knights, heroes, adventures, quests, etc. – An intimate relationship between two people; a love affair. – A strong obsession or attachment for something or someone. – Idealized love which […]

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Gorillas, monkeys and ponys

With a title like that, you might be expecting a post about animals, but in fact it’s about slang terms for money – a gorilla is £1,000, a monkey is £500 and a pony is £25. These names apparently come from old Indian banknotes and coins: the 25 Rupee coin had a pony on it, […]

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Beds that lie

The other day I noticed the word gwlau on a sign outside a furniture shop. It’s a Welsh word I hadn’t seen or heard before, but from the context I worked out that it meant ‘beds’. The sign also included the words gwlau soffa (sofa beds). As I hadn’t come across this plural form of […]

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Ingenious genius

The word ingenious sounds like the antonym (opposite) of genius as in- is often used as a negative suffix (invisible, indivisible, etc). However they are not. Ingenious means: – displaying genius or brilliance – tending to invent – characterized by genius – cleverly done or contrived; witty; original; shrewd; adroit; keen; sagacious. It comes from: […]

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Freshness

This week is Welcome Week at Bangor University when new students arrive for the first time, register, join clubs and societies, some of which they’ll actually go to, and so on. It’s also known as Freshers’ Week and the new students are known as freshers, though after this week, they’re generally known as first years. […]

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