the disputed origin of ‘tantrum’

18th century—origin unknown—perhaps originally imitative and comparable to, or derived from, ‘tantara’, denoting the sound of a trumpet, hence an uproar—or from obsolete French ‘trantran’, synonym of ‘tantara’

Read More

the curious origin of ‘pie’ (baked dish)

perhaps identical to ‘pie’ (‘magpie’)—variety of ingredients maybe associated with bird’s spotted appearance or its tendency to collect miscellaneous articles

Read More

meaning and origin of the word ‘pogue’

Via Irish ‘póg’, Irish-English ‘pogue’ (a kiss) is from ecclesiastical Latin ‘pacem’ (kiss of peace)—the name of the band is from ‘pogue mahone’ (kiss my arse).

Read More

The name ‘Albion’ did not originally refer to the white cliffs of Dover.

The name Albion did not originally refer to the white cliffs of Dover. (photograph: Wikimedia Commons/Fanny)   The name Albion first appeared in English in the very first sentence of the first Book of the 9th-century translation of Historia ecclesiastica gentis anglorum (The Ecclesiastical History of the English People) originally written by the English monk, theologian and historian St. Bede (circa 673-735):   […]

Read More

origin of ‘Maconochie’ (tinned stew)

      Maconochie Brothers was a company set up in 1873 by Archibald (1854-1926) and James (1850-1895) Maconochie. (Maconochie is a surname derived from the Gaelic Macdonochie, the son of Duncan.) With food processing plants on the Isle of Dogs (London), in Lowestoft (Suffolk), in Fraserburgh (Aberdeenshire, Scotland) and other places, the company was a wholesale provision merchant and manufacturer of pickles, potted meat and […]

Read More

origin and sense development of the noun ‘budget’

  bulga – from Dictionnaire illustré latin-français (1934), by Félix Gaffiot     MEANING   The following definition of budget is from the New English Dictionary (i.e. Oxford English Dictionary – 1888 edition): A statement of the probable revenue and expenditure for the ensuing year, with financial proposals founded thereon, annually submitted by the Chancellor of […]

Read More

origin and history of the names ‘Wales’ and ‘Cymru’

  Briton settlements in the 6th century – settlements of the Angles, Saxons and Jutes in Britain, circa 600     In the following, Briton will refer to the Celtic Brittonic-speaking peoples who inhabited Britain south of the Firth of Forth, and who, following the arrival of the Anglo-Saxons in the 5th century, gradually retreated until the […]

Read More

etymological twins: ‘clock’ – ‘cloak’

cloak: twin roses designs     The nouns clock and cloak are doublets, or etymological twins: they are of the same derivation but have different forms and meanings. Despite the notion of ‘two’ implied by doublet, the term is also applied to sets of more than two words. In this case, cloche, a borrowing from French, […]

Read More