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On proverbs

  In Notes & Queries (2d series, vol. 12, July-December 1861), A. De Morgan wrote, under the title Raining cats and dogs [also read here]: The derivation kata doksa will not do for the whole phrase, which, when I was a boy, was “cats and dogs, and pitchforks with their points downwards”. The phrase seems to be […]

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left & right – la gauche & la droite

left & right – la gauche & la droite

  ‘You’d better go and shift that ladder to the right window.’ ‘You mean the left window.’ ‘Well, let’s call it the correct window.’ I braced myself to break the bad news. ‘Ah,’ I said, ‘but what you’re overlooking – possibly because I forgot to tell you – is that a snag has arisen which […]

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Green, an unsettling colour

Green, an unsettling colour

      Verdigris is a bright bluish-green encrustation or patina formed on copper or brass by atmospheric oxidation, consisting of basic copper carbonate. The word verdigris is from Old French verte-gres, earlier vert de Grece, meaning green of Greece.     ETYMOLOGIES   The word green is etymologically related to the words grass and grow. And […]

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bacon

bacon

        Harengs et bacons Sont bonnes provisions. Dicton paysan   En Grande-Bretagne mais aussi en France, le bacon a longtemps constitué un aliment de base, le fait qu’il soit salé et fumé assurant sa conservation.     ÉTYMOLOGIE   Le mot anglais bacon (prononcé [ˈbeɪk(ə)n] dans cette langue) est attesté en français […]

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‘nice’

‘nice’

  It seems hardly possible to explain the modern sense of nice, which in the course of its history has traversed nearly the whole diatonic scale between “rotten” and “ripping.” In Middle English and Old French it means foolish. Cotgrave explains it by “lither, lazie, sloathful, idle; faint, slack; dull, simple,” and Shakespeare uses it […]

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