Tag Archives: dogs

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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one’s pigeon

  The development of trading contacts between Britain and China led to the emergence in 19th-century China of a trading language consisting of basic English and some Chinese grammatical forms. In this hybrid language, pidgin was derived from, and originally meant, business. (The phonetic development was perhaps via an intermediate form /pidginiss/ (with replacement of […]

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surly

    MEANING   bad-tempered and unfriendly     ORIGIN   This word was originally a variant of the obsolete and rare adjective sirly, composed of the noun sir and the suffix -ly, and meaning sir-like, lordly, hence haughty, imperious (it is similar to German herrisch, imperious, from Herr, lord, sir). The word sirly is first recorded, used […]

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Derby

Derby

  recruitment poster for the Derby scheme       The Derby is an annual flat race for three-year-old horses, founded in 1780 by the twelfth Earl of Derby (1752-1834), and run on Epsom Downs, in Surrey, England. The result of the first Derby, which took place on Thursday 4th May, was published in the London […]

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dog in the manger

dog in the manger

  The Dog in the Manger, from The Fables of Æsop selected, told anew and their history traced (1894), by Joseph Jacobs – illustrated by Richard Heighway       MEANING   A person who prevents others from having or using things even though he or she does not need them     ORIGIN   […]

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give a dog a bad name

give a dog a bad name

  John Ray (1627-1705) by unknown artist – after 1680 photograph: National Portrait Gallery     A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold. Old Testament, Proverbs, 22:1 (King James Version – 1611)     The catchphrase give a dog a bad name means […]

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February

February

      February is from classical Latin Februārius, a noun use of the adjective in mēnsis Februārius (mēnsis = month). This adjective is from the plural noun februa (singular februum), meaning means of purification, expiatory offerings. The Roman festival of purification and expiation was held on the 15th of this month. The origin of […]

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‘dog’

‘dog’

      The word dog is from Old English docga, of unknown origin. The generic name, in Old English and in the Germanic languages, was hund (Modern English hound), from an Indo-European root shared by Greek kuōn, kun-, and Latin canis, dog.     GENERIC TERMS FOR DOG   – Germanic languages: German Hund, Dutch hond, Danish and Swedish hund. […]

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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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