Tag Archives: Arabic

cockroach

    MEANING   A beetle-like scavenging insect with long antennae and legs. Several tropical kinds have become established worldwide as household pests.     ORIGIN   This noun first appeared in the form cacarootch in The generall historie of Virginia, New-England, and the Summer Isles (1624), by John Smith (1580-1631), soldier and colonial governor. […]

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Jerusalem artichoke

Jerusalem artichoke

  photograph: BBC goodfood       The name Jerusalem artichoke designates a North American sunflower, Helianthus tuberosus, cultivated for its underground edible tubers, and the tuber of this plant, which is cooked and eaten as a vegetable.   This name first appeared in 1620 in the form artichoke of Jerusalem. It is an alteration […]

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alphin

alphin

  photograph: the chess piece       In the early game of chess, an alphin was each of four pieces able to move two squares diagonally, jumping over the middle square. It was superseded by the bishop at the end of the 15th century. The word is from post-classical Latin alphinus, Anglo-Norman aufyn, Anglo-Norman […]

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tuna – tunny

tuna – tunny

  bluefin tuna (in French thon rouge, literally red tuna)     The name tuna denotes a large and active predatory schooling fish of warm seas, extensively fished commercially and popular as a game fish (scientific name: Thunnus and other genera, family Scombridae). The name tunny denotes a tuna, especially the bluefin, which is the […]

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sesame

sesame

  Sesamum indicum in Köhler’s Medizinal-Pflanzen (1887), published by Franz Eugen Köhler     Sesame is a tall annual herbaceous plant of tropical and subtropical areas of the Old World, cultivated for its oil-rich seeds. Its scientific name is Sesamum indicum (family Pedaliaceae). The word sesame is from Latin sesamum, also sisamum, from Greek σήσαμον […]

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apricot

apricot

  Malus Persica. The Peache tree – Malus Armeniaca. The Aprecock tree from A New Herball, or Historie of Plantes     In A New Herball, or Historie of Plantes, published in 1578, Henry Lyte wrote: Of the Peache and Abrecock trees The Kindes There be two kindes of Peaches, whereof the one kinde is […]

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matagraboliser – to metagrobolise

matagraboliser – to metagrobolise

    François Rabelais (circa 1494-1553)       In A Dictionarie of the French and English Tongues (1611), Randle Cotgrave translated the French verb metagraboulizer as: To dunce upon*, to puzzle, or (too much) beat the brains about. (* The obsolete verb to dunce meant to puzzle, prove to be a dunce; to make […]

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nabob

nabob

      Asaf-ud-dowlah, a Mogul nawab, listening to musicians in his court – 1812       A nabob is a person of conspicuous wealth or high status.   The word is from Hindi nawwāb, nabāb, viceroy, governor, itself from Arabic nuwwāb, plural of na’ib, meaning lieutenant, representative, replacement.   This Arabic na’ib is […]

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