A Marathon by any other Name…

via Daily Prompt: Marathon


A fine word. Most of us know it as a noun, referring to a run of 26 miles, or 42.195 kilometres. It can also be an adverb of course, indicating that something took an exceptionally long time, as would be the case for most of us running a marathon. Politicians might have a marathon session in parliament to discuss a controversial proposed law. One could also use the noun in this way as well; for example: Continue reading

Discover Challenge: Tough Questions

via Discover Challenge: Tough Questions

Do you think you have to deal with tough questions sometimes? Well count yourself lucky, if you’re a native English speaker, as if you’re an English learner, almost all questions are tough questions. Most of us don’t realise how easy we have it, never having to learn how to form questions, instead picking it up naturally. Even the most commonplace questions are surprisingly complex in their structure. For example: Continue reading

Daily Prompt: Pungent

via Daily Prompt: Pungent

Even if you didn’t know the meaning of the word pungent, you might have an idea that it describes something strong, powerful, and possibly unpleasant.

Oxford English Dictionary: Having a sharply strong taste or smell.

Why is it that the word seems to match its definition so well (for me anyway, this can be subjective, and the word might have strong associations for you)? It’s what is known as an ideophone, a word which evokes a certain idea, generally strongly associated with the meaning of the word. With a word like pungent, it’s simply due to the sound of the word. The vowel sound /ʌ/ has a soft, lazy sound, and the consonant /ʤ/ sound of the g is soft and squishy, and the two of them together compound each other and create a sense of powerful smelliness.

Similar words are: Continue reading

Daily Prompt: Original

via Daily Prompt: Original

Hhm, his work is just so… original!

The new album’s pretty good, but I prefer their early stuff. It was much more original.

He’s fantastic, a true original!

Original: the word for when you like something and know that it’s not slightly left of centre, but can’t quite explain how.

Only, when I was young, I didn’t consider it such a positive word. To me it was boring and banal, synonymous with ordinary, plain, common, everyday. Because of course, I was being influenced by so many different snacks with ORIGINAL FLAVOUR on their packaging. I couldn’t understand why anyone would want original flavour of anything! When you could get something like bacon, barbeque, salt & vinegar, sour cream & onion, why would you want plain old original flavour!? Continue reading

Daily Prompt: Border

via Daily Prompt: Border

Borders are inherently interesting, as places where two different cultures meet and, usually, blend together. Of course this is often especially true of languages, as can be seen in areas where nations with two different languages share a border. Take Catalan, for example. It’s much more similar to French than Castilian Spanish is, due to Catalonia’s proximity to France, and history of cultural exchange.

English, being so widely-spoken, has picked up many words from other languages, both from indigenous languages of English-speaking countries, and the languages of immigrants. I could spend hours writing about that, but what the prompt made me realise is that the United States is the only English-speaking country to share a border with a country with another first language (and there is also of course the Vermont-Quebec border in the north). Continue reading


Being a response to the Daily Prompt: https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/eclipse/

An interesting little word. If you were in some parts of Africa this week you would have borne witness to a solar eclipse this week, and next year Americans will have the same opportunity. There’s something about a solar eclipse that still fascinates us. Even now that we understand them, experiencing darkness during the middle of the day is still hard to get our heads round. It turns one of our most basic expectations about the world upside down. And I think it helps connect us with our primitive past (can you imagine what a total solar eclipse must have been like when it arrived without warning before people understood them and could predict them?), and makes us realise that for all our advances, there’s still so much that we can’t control. Continue reading


Being a response to the Daily Prompt: https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/249091/

Profound, and its more common synonym deep, are quite versatile words. There’s the literal sense of the words, measuring how far down something goes. Though we tend to use just deep for that. You’re hardly going to go to the profound end of a swimming pool, perhaps to discuss Proust and the films of Ingmar Bergman.

And then there’s the more abstract meaning of the words, to describe something with an important, valuable intense meaning. Someone can be a very deep person, or a novel can have a very profound meaning. You can feel something, deep down in your heart. We tend to use profound more often in this sense though. You might make a profound statement, or have a profoundly inspiring experience. What makes profound so special that we reserve it for when things are so, well… profound? Continue reading