Archive for the Category: Etymology

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 […]

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Also posted in English, French, German, Language, Words and phrases 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, Italian, Language, Welsh, Words and phrases 13 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, Language, Words and phrases 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, Language, Words and phrases 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, Language, Scots, Words and phrases 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, French, German, Language, Proto-Indo-European, Scottish Gaelic, Swedish, Words and phrases 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, French, Language, Words and phrases 3 Comments

Suns, moons and sputniks

Earlier today I was thinking about how I might learn more Russian, and realised that I need to get to grips with the grammar – the verb conjugations, noun declensions and so on. Trying to memorise verb tables and noun declensions and other grammatical gubbins doesn’t appeal to me, so I thought about other ways […]

Also posted in English, Language, Language learning, Russian, Words and phrases 5 Comments

Bosky bosses

I discovered today that bos is a Dutch word for forest or wood, and this immediately made me think of the wonderful English word bosky, which is defined by the OED as “Consisting of or covered with bushes or underwood; full of thickets, bushy”. The OED says that bosky comes from bosk, a Middle English […]

Also posted in Dutch, English, Language, Words and phrases 5 Comments

Sun dogs, billygoat’s eyes and halos

The other day I discovered the wonderful word sun dog, which refers to coloured patches of light that appear beside the sun at certain times, particularly when the sun is low in the sky. The scientific name for this phenomenon is a parhelion, from the παρήλιον (parēlion – beside the sun); from παρά (para – […]

Also posted in English, French, Greek, Language, Words and phrases 5 Comments