meanings and history of the term ‘fag end’

      MEANINGS   – the last part of something, especially when regarded as less important or interesting – British, informal: a cigarette end   ORIGIN   The obsolete adjective flag, attested in the late 16th century, meant flabby, hanging down. It was either an onomatopoeic formation or, via Middle French flac, from Latin […]

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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 […]

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origin and history of the word ‘sport’

  the world’s oldest football, late 15th or early 16th century, found in Stirling Castle, Scotland – made of stitched leather, with a pig’s bladder inside; half the size of a modern football – photograph: SWNS     The noun sport is a shortening of disport, which was borrowed in the early 14th century from Anglo-Norman and Old […]

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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, […]

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etymological twins: ‘lobster’ – ‘locust’

      The English nouns lobster and locust are doublets. Doublets (or etymological twins) are words in one given language that go back to the same etymological source but differ in form and meaning—cf. also turban – tulip, clock – cloak, pastiche – pastis and fawn – fetus.   The word lobster is from Old English […]

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etymological twins: ‘turban’ – ‘tulip’

    The English words turban and tulip are doublets. Doublets (or etymological twins) are words in one given language that go back to the same etymological source but differ in form and meaning—cf. also lobster – locust, fawn – fetus, pastiche – pastis and clock – cloak.   The word turban is from tul(i)pant, […]

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