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Shakespeare was the first to use beetle as a verb. In Hamlet he writes, “the cliff that beetles o’er his base into the sea”. Here beetles means that it hangs over – like a shaggy eyebrow?
Beetle-browed means having shaggy overhanging eyebrows, which is odd considering that
beetles don’t have eyebrows but big horns.
To beetle about or to beetle off means to make [more…]
French lawyer and gastronome Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin wrote in 1825 “Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are”. Or as we say nowadays – we are what we eat.
Maybe that is why we have always used food to describe the various aspects of our lives.
Your head was once referred to as your nut, perhaps because of [more…]
As I write this column, the person who has been the holder of more nobility titles than anyone in the world has died today. At 88, she was also one of Europe’s wealthiest aristocrats.
Maria del Rosario Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart y de Silva was born in 1926, in the Liria Palace, Madrid, only daughter of the 17th Duke Jacobo Fitz-James Stuart y [more…]
We associate Easter with chocolate eggs and a long weekend, but once Easter was bigger than Christmas. It still is in many denominations, a far more important event to Christians.
Christmas, being our big razzmatazz celebration, when families get together, with decorations and presents, puts Easter in the shade, but Easter was once a similar celebration. Families gathered on Easter Sunday with [more…]
One reason we have so many synonyms is a legacy of English history.
Anglo-Saxon was spoken until the Normans invaded England in 1066 when William the Conqueror made French the language of the courts. Anglo-Saxon was spoken by the peasants and French by the aristocracy, which is why so many English words have twins. For instance, baby from Anglo-Saxon, infant [more…]
One of the big decisions I had to make recently was whether I want to be called Grandma or Nanna – or any other variation such as Nanny, Nan, Gran or even Grandmama!
Yes, I have just become a grandmother! While it’s not a life-changing decision, it made me think about why there isn’t just one name for a grandmother. And [more…]