Tag Archives: dictionaries

Viking

    MEANING   any of the Danes, Norwegians and Swedes who raided by sea most of northern and western Europe from the 8th to the 11th centuries, later often settling, as in parts of Britain     ORIGIN   This noun was introduced in the early 19th century by antiquaries and poets. It is […]

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island – aisle

    The noun island is from Old English íegland, ígland, a pleonastic compound of íeg, íg, meaning isle, and land. The literal meaning of íeg is watered place. This word is related to Old English éa, water, river, and a compound frequent in Old English was éaland, literally water-land, river-land. Old English éa is related […]

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caterpillar

    MEANING   the larva of a butterfly or moth     ORIGIN   First attested in the mid-15th century, the noun caterpillar is probably from catepeluse and variants, which were the Anglo-Norman forms of the Old French feminine noun chatepelose and variants, meaning literally hairy she-cat. In his textbook Lesclarcissement de la langue […]

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eggcorn

eggcorn

  photograph: Launceston Parish Wildlife Project       MEANING   An eggcorn is a word or phrase that results from a mishearing or misinterpretation of another, an element of the original being substituted for one which sounds very similar, as in to tow the line instead of to toe the line.     ORIGIN […]

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jeopardy

jeopardy

  Jeopardy. This word is supposed to be derived from ‘j’ai perdu’, or ‘jeu perdu’. Skinner and Junius. Hazard; danger; Peril. A word not now in use. A Dictionary of the English Language (1785 edition), by Samuel Johnson (1709-84) There are two errors: the noun jeopardy is not from French j’ai perdu (I have lost) or jeu perdu […]

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a stiff upper lip

a stiff upper lip

  first edition cover of Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves (1963), by the English author P. G. Wodehouse (1881-1975) – image: Goldsboro Books     MEANING   a quality of uncomplaining stoicism     ORIGIN   The word lip occurs in phrases referring to certain actions regarded as indicative of particular states of feeling. For example, […]

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sedan

sedan

  image: Dictionnaire illustré latin-français (1934) – Félix Gaffiot     The Romans used forms of litters, called basterna and lectica, which were portable beds or sofas adapted for a reclining posture. They had however a third type of litter, named sella gestatoria, which was a portable chair adapted for a sitting posture. The feminine […]

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bridegroom

bridegroom

  Imogen discovered in the cave of Belarius by George Dawe (1781-1829)     MEANING   A bridegroom is a man on his wedding day or just before and after the event.     ORIGIN   The Old English noun brýdguma meant bridegroom. It was composed of brýd, bride, and guma, man. (The element guma […]

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cricket

cricket

  The evolution of the cricket bat (The first cricket bat looked like a hockey stick) source: World Cricket Watch     The French ‘jeu de la crosse’ – 18th century The English game of cricket – 18th century       ♦ The name of the insect related to the grasshoppers dates back to the […]

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freelance

freelance

    The term freelance appeared, as two words and in the sense of a medieval mercenary, in Walter Scott’s novel Ivanhoe (1819). In chapter 34, Scott wrote: “It is truth itself”, said De Bracy. “I was his prisoner, and spoke with him”. “With Richard Plantagenet, sayest thou?” continued Fitzurse. “With Richard Plantagenet”, replied De […]

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