history of the portmanteau word ‘brunch’

    A blend of breakfast and lunch, the noun brunch denotes a late morning meal eaten instead of breakfast and lunch. It originated, apparently in the late 19th century, as Oxford University slang and is first recorded in Lunch at Oxford, by Margaret B. Wright, published in The Independent (New York) of Thursday 22nd […]

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How ‘magpiety’ was invented… and reinvented.

A blend of magpie and piety, the word magpiety was originally invented by the English poet and humorist Thomas Hood (1799-1845) to denote talkativeness, garrulity, especially on religious or moral topics and affected piety. This author first used the word in Jarvis and Mrs. Cope, published in The New Sporting Magazine of March 1832; the poem thus begins: JARVIS AND MRS. COPE. A decidedly serious […]

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origin of ‘corduroy’: ‘colour de roy’ (i.e. king’s colour)?

MEANING   a heavy cotton pile fabric with lengthways ribs   ORIGIN: UNKNOWN   The original form of this noun, in the late 18th century, was corderoy. The earliest use of the word that I have found is from The Manchester Mercury (Manchester, Lancashire, England) of Tuesday 7th April 1772:           […]

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‘midinette’: originally a seamstress taking a light dinner at midday

Phonetically and semantically similar to milliner, the French word midinette was defined as “a milliner’s female assistant, especially in Paris” in the 1933 Supplement to the New English Dictionary (as the Oxford English Dictionary was known). However, while milliner literally means a Milanese, a native or inhabitant of Milan, midinette is a portmanteau word, composed […]

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