Tag Archives: Wycliffe
alligator

alligator

  Bobby Charles – See You Later, Alligator (1955) photograph: Rebound Records     MEANING   a large semiaquatic reptile similar to a crocodile but with a broader and shorter head, native to the Americas and China     ORIGIN   This noun is from Spanish el lagarto, el meaning the and lagarto lizard, from […]

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walk of life

walk of life

  The whole Psalter translated into English metre (1567?) photograph: Bodleian Library & Radcliffe Camera       The expression walk of life denotes a person’s occupation or position within society. It seems to have appeared in the early 18th century. In A Dialogue in the Elizium Fields between Lælius and Timon, of Friendship (published in […]

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‘onyx’

‘onyx’

  photograph: Health This Year      MEANING   a semi-precious variety of agate with different colours in layers     ORIGIN   Via Anglo-Norman and Old French forms such as onix and onice (Modern French onyx), the English word is from Latin onyx/onych-. This Latin noun is from Greek ὄνυξ/ὀνυχ- (onux/onukh-), which literally meant […]

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infantry

infantry

  La infanta doña Margarita de Austria (Infanta Margarita Teresa in a Pink Dress (circa 1665) by Juan Bautista Martínez del Mazo (circa 1612-67)       The noun infantry is, via French infanterie, from Italian infanteria, foot-soldiery. This Italian noun is from infante, a youth, a servant, a foot-soldier. The sense development of Italian infante […]

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to eat someone’s salt

to eat someone’s salt

  Fluellen intimidating Pistol (circa 1850), by Joseph Noel Paton (1821-1901)       Salt has strong symbolic connotations. The phrase the salt of the earth, which now denotes a person or group of people regarded as the finest of their kind, comes the gospel of Matthew, 5:13, where Jesus described his disciples and meant […]

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idiot

idiot

  Geoffrey Chaucer (circa 1342-1400) as a pilgrim – from the Ellesmere Manuscript, an early 15th-century illuminated manuscript of the Canterbury Tales       MEANING   A stupid person     ORIGIN   Via Old French, the English noun idiot is from Latin idiota, meaning uneducated, ignorant, inexperienced, common person. This Latin noun was […]

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marguerite

marguerite

  ox-eye daisy flower photograph: Wikimedia Commons/Tony Wills       Borrowed from French in the early 17th century, marguerite originally denoted the common daisy. It is now another term for the ox-eye daisy; also called moon daisy, this plant has large white flowers with yellow centres (scientific name: Leucanthemum vulgare, family Compositae).   The same […]

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Lucifer

Lucifer

  Boethius teaching his students from a 1385 Italian manuscript of The Consolation of Philosophy     The Latin adjective lucifer means light-bringing. It is composed of luc-/lux, meaning light, and -fer, bearing. The element -fer is from the verb ferre, to bear, carry, as in the English verb to transfer, literally to bear across. […]

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The ‘cheap’ in Cheapside

The ‘cheap’ in Cheapside

  Cheapside, circa 1890-1900     Cheapside is the former site of one of the principal markets in London – one of the meanings of cheap was market. The names of several streets located on or near Cheapside originate from the goods that were sold there: Poultry, Milk Street, Wood Street, Honey Lane and Bread […]

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to set someone’s teeth on edge

to set someone’s teeth on edge

    John Wycliffe (circa 1330-84) Wycliffe was an English religious reformer. He criticised the wealth and power of the Church and upheld the Bible as the sole guide for doctrine. His teachings were disseminated by itinerant preachers and are regarded as precursors of the Reformation. Wycliffe instituted the first English translation of the complete Bible. […]

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