origin of the British-English word ‘bonkers’

British English, first recorded, apparently as army slang, in 1945—probably from ‘bonk’ (= a blow on the head) and the suffix ‘-ers’ as in ‘ravers’ (from ‘raving mad’) and ‘starkers’ (from ‘stark mad’)

Read More

Werewolves were originally in the service of Satan.

Old English ‘werewulf’ (first element identified with Old English ‘wer’, ‘man’) first used for ‘wolf’ to denote a person serving Satan (cf. Gospel of Matthew “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves”)

Read More

How ‘magazine’ came to denote a periodical publication.

‘Magazine’ (= ‘storehouse’) came to denote a book providing information on a specified subject (17th c.). This gave rise to the sense ‘periodical magazine (= ‘repository’) of the most interesting pieces of information published in the newspapers’ (18th c.).

Read More

‘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 […]

Read More

a WWI phrase: ‘san fairy ann’ (‘that doesn’t matter’)

An expression of indifference to, or resigned acceptance of, a state of affairs, ‘san fairy ann’ jocularly represents the French phrase ‘ça ne fait rien’, meaning ‘that doesn’t matter’. It originated in army use on the Western Front during the First World War.

Read More

the Christian-Latin origin of ‘Noël’

French—from the noun use of the Latin adjective ‘natalis’ (from Christian-Latin ‘natalis dies’, ‘day of birth’), denoting the festival of the nativity of Christ

Read More