Weird Christmas Words — from “Yule” to “Hark” to “Boxing Day”

At Christmas time, do you ever hear something and think, what in the world does that actually mean? We seem to have gone ear-numb to a lot of the Christmas words and phrases we hear every year. So now I’m going to unpick a few of them and find out what linguistic secrets lie behind … Continue reading Weird Christmas Words — from “Yule” to “Hark” to “Boxing Day”

Advertisements

Weird Words – 5 expressions with crazy origins

Etymology fascinates me, particularly when the passage of time twists the original meaning of a word or phrase into something else entirely. There are some common expressions with such wacky origins that even if you tried to make an educated guess, you’d probably be barking up the wrong tree. (See what I did there? No … Continue reading Weird Words – 5 expressions with crazy origins

Weird Words – 5 surprising word origins you’d never guess

As a writer, I’ve always been interested in how language changes, develops and evolves. How words change their meaning because of the way we use them. How mishearings and grammar mistakes become part of the language because overuse leads people to forget that they’re errors. How entirely new words pop up because of new technologies … Continue reading Weird Words – 5 surprising word origins you’d never guess

Weird Words – how brand names become generic

I have a Numatic Hetty HET200 Vacuum Cleaner. Do I call it that? No. It's a hoover. When I dig it out, I don’t “vacuum” the flat. I “hoover” the flat. “Hoover” is a noun and a verb that has long been synonymous with vacuuming and vacuum cleaner, yet the word actually originates from the Hoover … Continue reading Weird Words – how brand names become generic

Weird Words – Brits vs Yanks

A few hundred years ago, English-speakers sailed away to the New World, taking our language with them. Since that time, a whole ocean has separated us, so the English language on American soil was inevitably going to become a different beast. But the last 50 years have caused the two languages to converge again. Well, … Continue reading Weird Words – Brits vs Yanks

Weird Words – assassins, dogs and buxom bimbos

As a freelance copywriter, I sometimes have to research the meanings of words to check that I’m using them in the right context. What’s interesting is that occasionally I find that certain words used to mean something else entirely. How many words have we been getting wrong for so long that they’re now right? Doped … Continue reading Weird Words – assassins, dogs and buxom bimbos

Weird Words: 5 mistakes that turned into new words and phrases

English teachers will tell you what’s right and what’s wrong about your spelling, grammar and punctuation. What's interesting is that many of the words and phrases we use began life as mistakes anyway. In this month’s “Weird Words”, I’m looking at 5 words and phrases which no longer invite any attention from the teacher’s red … Continue reading Weird Words: 5 mistakes that turned into new words and phrases

Weird Words: 5 words and phrases with grim origins

The English language is an infinite source of fascination, irregularity, confusion and downright weirdness. Starting today I’m going to post a monthly “Weird Words” article, looking at the strange and funny ways words and phrases end up becoming part of the language. This month’s “Weird Words” has a particularly dark tone. (Who doesn’t love a … Continue reading Weird Words: 5 words and phrases with grim origins