an oxymoronic word: ‘oxymoron’

The word ‘oxymoron’ has the property it denotes: it is from Greek ‘oxús’, meaning ‘sharp’, ‘acute’, and ‘mōrόs’, meaning ‘dull’, ‘stupid’.

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origin of ‘according to Cocker’

according to Cocker: correctly; reliably—early 19th century, from the name of Edward Cocker (1631-75), English arithmetician, reputed author of a popular Arithmetick

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origin of ‘according to Gunter’

‘according to Gunter’: correctly; reliably—early 18th century, from the name of the English mathematician Edmund Gunter (1581-1626)

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origin of ‘to sweat like a pig’

The pig probably symbolises the unpleasant fact of sweating profusely in the same way as it often represents greed, dirt, etc. in many other derogatory idioms.

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origin of ‘once in a blue moon’

‘Once in a blue moon’ is a development from ‘once in a moon’, meaning ‘once a month’, hence ‘occasionally’—‘blue’ is merely a meaningless fanciful intensive.

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the various meanings of ‘earthling’

Before being a science-fiction term used by aliens to refer to an inhabitant of the earth, ‘earthling’ denoted an inhabitant of the earth as opposed to heaven.

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serendipity

    The noun serendipity denotes the faculty of making by accident discoveries that are both fortunate and unexpected. (It has been borrowed into Spanish as serendipia, into Italian as serendipità, and into French as sérendipité.) It was coined by the English writer and politician Horace Walpole (1717-97). In a letter that he wrote to his friend Horace Mann […]

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Georgium Sidus

  Sir John Herschel The announcement last Friday of the death, at the age of 81, of the Rev. Sir John Herschel, Bart., which occurred at Observatory House, Slough, revives a host of memories of 18th century Bath. Sir John Herschel was the great-grandson of Sir William Herschel, the famous astronomer, who discovered from his scientific […]

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