I saw the word predicament recently, and thought that it would be an interesting case for a little bit of etymology figuring-out. It looks so Latin, with such clearly separate sections, each of which could have its own meaning, and which could all be added up to clearly show the meaning of the word as whole. Continue reading
Do you ever see pretentious French terms on menus and wish you knew what they meant without having to look up their meaning? Perhaps you choose a dish in a restaurant which includes sautéd greens, but you have no idea what they exactly are. Well, let me help you with this one at least. And talk about Ancient Greek philosophers and heraldry too, naturally.
Writing about the etymology of the word clock yesterday reminded me of when I wrote about the word to decimate recently, and how people are fond of citing its original meaning as being to reduce by 10%, even though that’s not true.
As I said before, I can understand people having this misconception, and I can understand the instinct to correct people. There have always been people who’ve acted this way about language, but recently I’ve noticed more and more people taking such a prescriptive approach to English.
Recently I read something or other which featured the word quintessential, and was struck by that prefix. Quint-, as in five. The word doesn’t seem to have an obvious link to the number, so I went looking for more information. Continue reading
Why do have such reverence for the heart? Yes, it’s functioning is necessary for survival, but that’s true for our other organs too. At the end of the day, it’s a big fleshy pump that sends blood around the body (I think that’s how it’s described in Gray’s Anatomy).
It’s important, but the number of idioms we have that refer to it seem quite out of proportion, compared to how often we refer to other parts of the body. The following is just a small fraction of the heart-related idioms listed at thefreedictionary.com: Continue reading