Tag Archives: vegetal

costermonger

    MEANING   a person who sells goods, especially fruit and vegetables, from a barrow     ORIGIN   A costermonger was originally an apple-seller, a fruiterer. The word is composed of costard, meaning a kind of apple of large size, and monger, denoting a dealer or trader in a specified commodity. The noun […]

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sparrowgrass

    MEANING   asparagus     ORIGIN   The Latin noun asparagus is a borrowing from Greek ἀσπάραγος (= asparagos). The Medieval Latin form was often sparagus, whence English sperage (also sparage, after smallage, wild celery), which was the common name in the 16th and early 17th centuries. Meanwhile, the influence of herbalists and […]

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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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sub tegmine fagi

sub tegmine fagi

  William Mason (1774), by Joshua Reynolds image: BBC ‘your paintings’       The Latin phrase sub tegmine fagi means under the cover of a beech tree. It is composed of sub, under, tegmine, ablative of tegmen, covering, and fagi, genitive of fagus, beech tree. It alludes to the bucolic setting evoked in the […]

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a bite at the cherry

a bite at the cherry

  photograph: Wikimedia Commons/Benjamint444     MEANING   an attempt or opportunity to do something     ORIGIN   As B. A. Phytian explains in A Concise Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (1993), this is a curious development from the original meaning, which implied over-fussiness, squeamishness or even hypocrisy. A cherry is of course easily […]

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green man

green man

  This character, which is that of a wild or savage man, was very common in the pageants of former times, and seems to have been very popular. from The Sports and Pastimes of the People of England, by Joseph Strutt (edited by William Hone – 1838)       PAGEANTS   In Tudor and […]

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vanilla

vanilla

  Vanilla planifolia in Köhler’s Medizinal-Pflanzen (1887), published by Franz Eugen Köhler     In English, the word is first attested in The Indian Nectar, or A discourse concerning chocolata (1662), by the author and physician Henry Stubbe (1632-76): The next Ingredient of Chocolata is Tlilxochil (or, as some write it, Tlixochil) or, as the […]

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new broom

new broom

  broom-besom – photograph: Etsy       A new broom is a person who, or thing which, effects fundamental or numerous alterations, especially a newly appointed person who vigorously sets about making changes in personnel, procedures, etc. The first known user of the term is Robert Sanderson (1587-1663), Bishop of Lincoln, in a sermon […]

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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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