‘Atlantic’ originally referred to Mount Atlas in North Africa.

‘Atlantic’ originally referred to Mount Atlas in North Africa, on which the heavens were fabled to rest; it was hence applied to the sea near the western shore of Africa, and afterwards extended to the whole ocean lying between Europe and Africa on the east and America on the west.

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‘Glamour’ was originally a Scottish alteration of ‘grammar’.

‘Glamour’ was originally a Scottish alteration of ‘grammar’: this article explains how it came to denote an attractive or exciting quality that makes certain people or things seem appealing.   GLAMOUR BABY Jackie Watson, “Glamour Baby” of Alfred Esdaile’s new autumn revues, “Folies de Minuit” and “Revue d’Elegance,” at the London Casino, for which Gordon Courtney […]

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British and French Twelfth-Day traditions

Twelfth Day denotes the twelfth day after Christmas, i.e. 6th January, on which the festival of the Epiphany is celebrated, and which was formerly observed as the closing day of the Christmas festivities. (Epiphany denotes the festival commemorating the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles in the persons of the Magi; via Old-French and Anglo-Norman forms such as epyphane (Modern […]

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from the trenches of WWI: ‘cootie’ (‘body louse’)

from army use on the Western Front during World War One: ‘cootie’, ‘body louse’, ‘cooty’, ‘infested with lice’, ‘coot’, ‘louse’, probably ultimately refer to the aquatic bird called ‘coot’, reputed to be lice-infested

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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’

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linguistic pondering over ‘Libra’ and ‘pound’

The English noun ‘pound’ is from Latin ‘pondō’, short for ‘lībra pondō’, literally ‘a pound’ (= ‘lībra’) ‘by weight’ (= ‘pondō’)—Latin ‘lībra’ meant ‘the Roman pound of twelve ounces’, and ‘pondō’ was a form of ‘pondus’, meaning ‘weight’.

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folk-etymological origin of ‘squirrel’

Greek ‘skíouros’, ultimate origin of ‘squirrel’: folk-etymologically interpreted as meaning ‘shadow-tailed’ because when the animal sits erect, it raises its tail up against its back and over its head as if to shade itself

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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.

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