origin of ‘Shrovetide’ (‘les jours gras’)

Etymologically, ‘Shrovetide’ denotes the period during which it was customary to attend confession in preparation for Lent—but this period was also marked by feasting before the Lenten fast.

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

the creation of the word ‘folklore’

The word ‘folklore’ was coined in 1846 by the British author William John Thoms, inspired by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm’s anthology of German fairy tales.

Read More

the origin of ‘bully’?

noun (late 17th cent.), perhaps from ‘bull’ (= bovine)—possibly distinct from ‘bully’ (mid-16th cent.), ‘darling’, probably from Middle Dutch ‘boele’, ‘lover’

Read More

origin of ‘ado’

from ‘at do’ (meaning ‘to do’)—construction ‘to have’ + pronominal object (e.g. ‘much’) + ‘at do’ led to ‘ado’ reinterpreted as a noun qualified by an adjective

Read More

Why ‘ache’ ought to be written ‘ake’.

The spelling ‘ache’ (erroneously derived from Greek ‘ákhos’) instead of ‘ake’ is largely due to Samuel Johnson in A Dictionary of the English Language (1755).

Read More

origin of ‘spick and span’

mid-17th cent. in the sense ‘brand new’—from ‘spick and span new’, extension of ‘span new’, from Old Norse ‘spán-nýr’, ‘as new as a freshly cut wooden chip’

Read More

the origin of ‘spud’ (potato)

The noun ‘spud’, originally the name for the digging implement used to dig up potatoes, was applied to the latter in the 19th century.

Read More