Sunday, September 30, 2012

September is Etymology Month (30)

billiards 1590s, from Fr. billiard, originally the word for the wooden cue stick, a diminutive from O.Fr. bille "stick of wood," from M.L. billia "tree, trunk," possibly from Gaulish (cf. Ir. bile "tree trunk").

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Current Favourite Sentences

There are no traffic lights and not much traffic at such an hour in the morning, and Feet passes me in a terrible hurry. And about twenty yards behind him comes an old guy with grey whiskers, and I can see it is nobody but Doc Bodeeker. What is more, he has a big long knife in one hand, and he seems to be reaching for Feet at every jump with the knife.

Current Favourite Sentence

He is a big guy of maybe thirty-odd, and he has hair blacker than a yard up a chimney, and black eyes, and black eyebrows, and a slow way of looking at people.

September is Etymology Month (29)

lapwing M.E. lappewinke (late 14c.), lapwyngis (early 15c.), folk etymology alteration of O.E. hleapewince, probably lit. "leaper-winker," from hleapan "to leap" + wince "totter, waver, move rapidly," related to wincian "to wink." Said to be so called from "the manner of its flight" [OED] "in reference to its irregular flapping manner of flight" [Barnhart], but the lapwing also flaps on the ground pretending to have a broken wing to lure egg-hunters away from its nest, which seems a more logical explanation. Its Greek name was polyplagktos "luring on deceitfully."

Current Favourite Sentence

Well, I will say one thing for Ambrose Hammer, and this is that he is at all time very gentlemanly, and he introduces me to the Arabian acrobatic dancer, and I notice that he speaks of her as Miss Cleghorn, although I remember that they bill her in lights in front of the Club Soudan as Illah-Illah, which is maybe her first name.

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Image The Romney Campaign Tried To Ban!

But seriously... It's a picture by Roy Ellsworth. I can't find anything else out about him, apart from the fact that he's from Australia and likes Celtic art (as can be seen here).

September is Etymology Month (28)

forget O.E. forgietan, from for-, used here with negative force, "away, amiss, opposite" + gietan "to grasp". To "un-get," hence "to lose" from the mind. A common Germanic construction (cf. O.S. fargetan, O.Fris. forjeta, Du. vergeten, O.H.G. firgezzan, Ger. vergessen "to forget"). The literal sense would be "to lose (one's) grip on," but that is not recorded in any Germanic language.


Or, Haloxylon: see here for further info.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

September is Etymology Month (27)

creep O.E. creopan "to creep" (class II strong verb; past tense creap, pp. cropen), from P.Gmc. *kreupanan (cf. O.Fris. kriapa, M.Du. crupen, O.N. krjupa "to creep"), from PIE root *greug-. As a noun, "a creeping motion," from 1818; meaning "despicable person" is 1935, Amer.Eng. slang, perhaps from earlier sense of "sneak thief" (1914). Creeper "a gilded rascal" is recorded from c.1600, and the word also was used of certain classes of thieves, especially those who robbed customers in brothels. The creeps first attested 1849, in Dickens.

September is Etymology Month (26)

memoir early 15c., "written record," from Anglo-Fr. memorie "note, memorandum, something written to be kept in mind" (early 15c., O.Fr. memoire), from L. memoria. Meaning "person's written account of his life" is from 1670s.

September is Etymology Month (25)

gland 1690s, from Fr. glande (O.Fr. glandre, 13c.), from L. glandula "gland of the throat, tonsil," dim. of glans (gen. glandis) "acorn, nut; acorn-shaped ball," from PIE root *gwele- "acorn" (cf. Gk. balanos, Armenian kalin, O.C.S. zelodi "acorn;" Lith. gile "oak"). Earlier English form was glandula (c.1400).

Monday, September 24, 2012

September is Etymology Month (24)

dagger late 14c., apparently from O.Fr. dague "dagger," from O.Prov. dague or It. daga, of uncertain origin; perhaps Celtic, perhaps from V.L. *daca "Dacian knife," from the Roman province in modern Romania. The ending is possibly the faintly pejorative -ard suffix. Attested earlier (1279) as a surname (Dagard, presumably "one who carried a dagger"). M.Du. dagge, Dan. daggert, Ger. Degen also are from French.

September is Etymology Month (23)

nipple 1530s, nyppell, "teat, duct-laden extremity of a mammalian breast," alteration of neble (1520s), probably dim. of neb "bill, beak, snout", hence, lit. "a small projection." In reference to an artificial device on an infant's bottle, from 1875.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

September is Etymology Month (22)

family c.1400, "servants of a household," from L. familia "family servants, domestics;" also "members of a household," including relatives and servants, from famulus "servant," of unknown origin. Ancestral sense is from early 15c.; "household" sense recorded in English from 1540s; main modern sense of "those connected by blood" (whether living together or not) is first attested 1660s. Replaced O.E. hiwscipe. As an adjective meaning "suitable for a family," by 1807. Buzzword family values first recorded 1966. Phrase in a family way "pregnant" is from 1796. Family circle is 1809; family man, one devoted to wife and children, is 1856 (earlier it meant "thief," 1788, from family in a slang sense of "the fraternity of thieves").

Friday, September 21, 2012

September is Etymology Month (21)

hod 1570s, alteration of M.E. hott "pannier" (c.1300), from O.Fr. hotte "basket to carry on the back," apparently from Frankish *hotta or some other Germanic source (cf. M.H.G. hotze "cradle"). Altered by influence of cognate M.Du. hodde "basket."

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Class-conscious we are...

To Dickson's surprise Dougal seemed to be in good spirits. He began to sing to a hymn tune a strange ditty.
Class-conscious we are, and class-conscious wull be
Till our fit´s on the neck o' the Boorjoyzee.
'What on earth are you singing?' Dickson inquired.
Dougal grinned. 'Wee Jaikie went to a Socialist Sunday School last winter because he heard they were for fechtin' battles. Ay, and they telled him he was to jine a thing called an International, and Jaikie thought it was a fitba' club. But when he fund out there was no magic lantern or swaree at Christmas he gie'd it the chuck. They learned him a heap o' queer songs. That's one.'
'What does the last word mean?'
'I don't ken. Jaikie thought it was some kind of a draigon.'

Mambrú se fue a la guerra

Fascinating: information here.

September is Etymology Month (20)

resign late 14c., from O.Fr. resigner, from L. resignare "to check off, cancel, give up," from re- "opposite" + signare "to make an entry in an account book," lit. "to mark". The sense is of making an entry (signum) "opposite" -- on the credit side -- balancing the former mark and thus canceling the claim it represents. The meaning of "give up a position" is first recorded late 14c. Sense of "to give (oneself) up to some emotion or situation" is from 1718.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Frederick Valk (1895-1956)

More information here.

Michael Redgrave (1908-1985)

More information here.

Mervyn Johns (1899-1992)

More information here.

Googie Withers (1917-2011)

Pseudonym of Georgette Lizette Withers. More information here.

September is Etymology Month (19)

dairy late 13c., "building for making butter and cheese; dairy farm," formed with Anglo-Fr. -erie affixed to M.E. daie (in daie maid "dairymaid"), from O.E. dæge "kneader of bread, housekeeper, female servant". The native word was dey-house.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

September is Etymology Month (18)

sphinx early 15c., "monster of Gk. mythology," from L. Sphinx, from Gk. Sphinx, lit." the strangler," a back-formation from sphingein "to squeeze, bind" (see sphincter). Monster, having a lion's (winged) body and a woman's head, that waylaid travelers around Thebes and devoured those who could not answer its questions; Oedipus solved the riddle and the Sphinx killed herself. The proper plural would be sphinges. Transf. sense of "person or thing of mysterious nature" is from c.1600. In the Egyptian sense (usually male and wingless) it is attested from 1570s; specific reference to the colossal stone one near the pyramids as Giza is attested from 1610s.

Monday, September 17, 2012

September is Etymology Month (17)

scruple "moral misgiving, pang of conscience," late 14c., from O.Fr. scrupule (14c.), from L. scrupulus "uneasiness, anxiety, pricking of conscience," lit. "small sharp stone," dim. of scrupus "sharp stone or pebble," used figuratively by Cicero for a cause of uneasiness or anxiety, probably from the notion of having a pebble in one's shoe. A more literal Latin sense of "small unit of weight or measurement" is attested in English from late 14c.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

September is Etymology Month (16)

spelunk "cave, cavern," c.1300, from O.Fr. spelonque or directly from L. spelunca "a cave, cavern, grotto," from Gk. spelynx (gen. spelyngos). An adjective, speluncar "of a cave" is recorded from 1855.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

September is Etymology Month (15)

lobster marine shellfish, O.E. loppestre "lobster, locust," corruption of L. locusta, lucusta "lobster, locust," by influence of O.E. loppe "spider," a variant of lobbe. The ending of O.E. loppestre is the fem. agent noun suffix, which approximated the Latin sound. Perhaps a transferred use of the Latin word; trilobite fossils in Worcestershire limestone quarries were known colloquially as locusts, which seems to be the generic word for "unidentified arthropod," as apple is for "foreign fruit." OED says the Latin word originally meant "lobster or some similar crustacean, the application to the locust being suggested by the resemblance in shape." Locusta in the sense "lobster" also appears in French (langouste now "crawfish, crayfish," but in Old French "lobster" and "locust;" a 13c. psalter has God giving over the crops of Egypt to the langoustes) and Old Cornish (legast). As slang for "a British soldier" since 1640s, originally in reference to the jointed armor of the Roundhead cuirassiers, later (1660) to the red coat.

Friday, September 14, 2012

September is Etymology Month (14)

warble c.1300, from O.N.Fr. werbler "to sing with trills and quavers," from Frank. *werbilon (cf. O.H.G. wirbil "whirlwind," Ger. Wirbel "whirl, whirlpool, tuning peg, vertebra," M.Du. wervelen "to turn, whirl"). The noun meaning "tune, melody" is recorded from c.1300.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

September is Etymology Month (13)

write O.E. writan "to score, outline, draw the figure of," later "to set down in writing" (class I strong verb; past tense wrat, pp. writen), from P.Gmc. *writanan "tear, scratch" (cf. O.Fris. writa "to write," O.S. writan "to tear, scratch, write," O.N. rita "write, scratch, outline," O.H.G. rizan "to write, scratch, tear," Ger. reißen "to tear, pull, tug, sketch, draw, design"), outside connections doubtful. Words for "write" in most I.E languages originally mean "carve, scratch, cut" (cf. L. scribere, Gk. grapho, Skt. rikh-); a few originally meant "paint" (cf. Goth. meljan, O.C.S. pisati, and most of the modern Slavic cognates). To write (something) off (1680s) originally was from accounting; figurative sense is recorded from 1889. Write-in "unlisted candidate" is recorded from 1932.

September is Etymology Month (12)

callus "hardened skin," 1560s, from L. callus, variant of callum "hard skin," related to callere "be hard," and cognate with Skt. kalika "bud," O.Ir. calath "hard," O.C.S. kaliti "to cool, harden."

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

September is Etymology Month (11)

clan early 15c., from Gael. clann "family, stock, offspring," akin to O.Ir. cland "offspring, tribe," both from L. planta "offshoot". The Goidelic branch of Celtic (including Gaelic) had no initial p-, so it substituted k- or c- for Latin p-. The same Latin word in (non-Goidelic) Middle Welsh became plant "children."

Monday, September 10, 2012

Great Unclean One

More information, overwrought and mildly disgusting, here.

September is Etymology Month (10)

blade O.E. blæd "a leaf," but also "a leaf-like part" (of spade, oar, etc.), from P.Gmc. *bladaz (cf. O.Fris. bled "leaf," Ger. blatt, O.S., Dan., Du. blad, O.N. blað), from PIE *bhle-to-, suffixed form (p.p.) of *bhel- (3) "to thrive, bloom," possibly identical with *bhel- (2) "to blow, swell" (see bole). Extended in M.E. to shoulders (c.1300) and swords (early 14c.). The modern use in reference to grass may be a M.E. revival, by influence of O.Fr. bled "corn, wheat" (11c., perhaps from Germanic). The cognate in German, Blatt, is the general word for "leaf;" Laub is used collectively as "foliage." O.N. blað was used of herbs and plants, lauf in reference to trees. This might have been the original distinction in Old English, too. Of men from 1590s; in later use often a reference to 18c. gallants, but the original exact sense, and thus signification, is uncertain.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

L.S. Lowry (1887-1976)

Seascape (1960). More information here.

September is Etymology Month (9)

gamble 1726 (implied in gambling), from a dialectal survival of M.E. gammlen, variant of gamenen "to play, jest, be merry," from O.E. gamenian "to play, joke, pun," from gamen. Or possibly gamble is from a derivative of gamel "to play games" (1590s), itself likely a frequentative from game. Originally regarded as a slang word. The intrusive -b- may be from confusion with gambol.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

September is Etymology Month (8)

gate "opening, entrance," O.E. geat (pl. geatu) "gate, door, opening, passage, hinged framework barrier," from P.Gmc. *gatan (cf. O.N. gat "opening, passage," O.S. gat "eye of a needle, hole," O.Fris. gat "hole, opening," Du. gat "gap, hole, breach," Ger. Gasse "street"), of unknown origin. Meaning "money collected from selling tickets" dates from 1896 (short for gate money, 1820). Gate-crasher is from 1927. Finnish katu, Lettish gatua "street" are Germanic loan-words.

Friday, September 07, 2012

September is Etymology Month (7)

foil "thin sheet of metal," early 14c., from O.Fr. fueille "leaf," from L. folia "leaves," pl. (mistaken for fem. sing.) of folium "leaf". The sense of "one who enhances another by contrast" (1580s) is from the practice of backing a gem with metal foil to make it shine more brilliantly. The meaning "light sword used in fencing" (1590s) could be from this sense, or from foil (v.). The modern sense of "metallic food wrap" is from 1946.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

September is Etymology Month (6)

thousand O.E. þusend, from P.Gmc. *thusundi (cf. O.Fris. thusend, Du. duizend, O.H.G. dusunt, Ger. tausend, O.N. þusund, Goth. þusundi); related to words in Balto-Slavic (cf. Lith. tukstantis, O.C.S. tysashta, Pol. tysiąc, Czech tisic), and probably ultimately a compound with indefinite meaning "several hundred" or "a great multitude" (with first element perhaps related to Skt. tawas "strong, force"). Used to translate Gk. khilias, L. mille, hence the refinement into the precise modern meaning. There was no general IE word for "thousand." Slang shortening thou first recorded 1867. Thousand island dressing (1916) is presumably named for the region of New York on the St. Lawrence River.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

September is Etymology Month (5)

calamity (n.) early 15c., from M.Fr. calamite (14c.), from L. calamitatem (nom. calamitas) "damage, loss, failure; disaster, misfortune, adversity," origin obscure. Early etymologists associated it with calamus "straw," but it is perhaps from a lost root preserved in incolumis "uninjured."

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

She Was Poor But She Was Honest

The above is a 1965 reworking of the glorious original (the lyrics I remember are below): both are worth at least few minutes of your time.

She was poor but she was honest,
Victim of the squire's whim,
First he loved her, then he left her,
And she lost her honest name.

Then she ran away to London,
For to hide her grief and shame;
There she met a wealthy Captain,
And she lost her name again.

See her riding in a carriage,
In the Park and all so gay:
All the nibs and nobby persons
Come to pass the time of day.

See the little old-world village
Where her aged parents live,
Drinking the Champagne she sends them;
But they never can forgive.

In a rich man's arms she flutters,
Like a bird with broken wing:
First he loved her, then he left her,
And she hasn't got a ring.

See him in the splendid mansion,
Eating partridge with the best,
While the girl that he has ruined,
Entertains a sordid guest.

See him in the House of Commons,
Making laws to put down crime,
While the victim of his passions
Trails her way through mud and slime.

Standing on the bridge at midnight,
She says: 'Farewell, blighted Love.'
There's a scream, a splash — Good Heavens!
What is she a-doing of?

Then they dragged her from the river,
Water from her clothes they wrang,
For they thought that she was drownded;
But the corpse got up and sang:

'It's the same the whole world over;
It's the poor what gets the blame,
It's the rich what get the pleasure.
Ain't it all a blooming shame?'

September is Etymology Month (4)

cloth (n.) O.E. clað "a cloth, woven or felted material to wrap around one," hence, "garment," from P.Gmc. *kalithaz (cf. O.Fris. klath, M.Du. cleet, Du. kleed, M.H.G. kleit, Ger. Kleid "garment"), of obscure origin. The cloth "the clerical profession" is from 17c.

Monday, September 03, 2012

September is Etymology Month (3)

frangipani, type of shrub, 1864; earlier frangipane, a type of perfume (1670s), from Fr. frangipane (16c.), said to be from Frangipani, the family name of the Italian inventor. [FRANGIPANI, an illustrious and powerful Roman House, which traces its origin to the 7th c., and attained the summit of its glory in the 11th and 12th centuries. ... The origin of the name Frangipani is attributed to the family's benevolent distribution of bread in time of famine. (Chambers's Encyclopædia, 1868)]

Sunday, September 02, 2012

September is Etymology Month (2)

clap "gonorrhea," 1580s, of unknown origin, perhaps from M.E. claper, from O.Fr. clapoire, originally "rabbit burrow" but given a slang extension to "brothel" and also the name of a disease of some sort. In English originally also a verb, "to infect with clap."

September is Etymology Month (1)

All definitions this month from the Online Etymology Dictionary here.

heart O.E. heorte "heart; breast, soul, spirit, will, desire; courage; mind, intellect," from P.Gmc. *khertan- (cf. O.S. herta, O.Fris. herte, O.N. hjarta, Du. hart, O.H.G. herza, Ger. Herz, Goth. hairto), from PIE *kerd- "heart" (cf. Gk. kardia, L. cor, O.Ir. cride, Welsh craidd, Hittite kir, Lith. širdis, Rus. serdce "heart," Breton kreiz "middle," O.C.S. sreda "middle"). Spelling with -ea- is c.1500, reflecting what then was a long vowel, and remained when pronunciation shifted. Most of the figurative senses were present in O.E., including "intellect, memory," now only in by heart. Heart attack attested from 1935; heart disease is from 1864. The card game hearts is so called from 1886.