Christine Lovatt's Hello Column

Christine's Hello column appears monthly in Lovatts BIG Crossword magazine – click here for more information

Hello – BIG March 2013

The word Saracen comes from the Arab word sharq ‘east, sunrise'. It originally referred to desert people who were not Arabs, but by the time of the Crusades, which ran from 1096 until 1272, it had come to mean Muslim Arabs – in other words, the enemy. A Saracen was a Muslim soldier who defended his territories from the Crusaders...

Hello – BIG February 2013

I read recently that the most common word in the English-speaking world is no, with okay as a runner-up.

But what about the most commonly used word in the world – English-speaking or not?

Words such as radio, bank, café, chocolate and beer are understood in many countries even though they may have their own [more…]

Hello – BIG January 2013

A mocha coffee, for instance, is named after the seaport of Mocha in Yemen where the arabica coffee was shipped from.

The word bungalow, meaning a single-storey house, comes from India, from the Hindi word for a low thatched house, bangla meaning literally ‘Bengalese house’.

A sturdy fabric called serge, made in the French town [more…]

Hello BIG December 2012

As I sit down to write about Christmas, as I do at this time every year, it occurs to me that my Christmas as a celebration is gradually changing.

As a child, it was about the Nativity scene, about singing carols, the delicious aromas in the kitchen where Mum was cooking turkey and mince pies. [more…]

Hello BIG November 2012

A mascot is a person or thing that is supposed to bring good luck, especially one linked to a particular organisation or event. Some of our clues for mascot include ‘Lucky emblem’, ‘Lucky symbol’ and ‘Team pet’.

The word mascot is derived from the French term mascotte meaning ‘good luck piece’, which ultimately came from [more…]

Hello – BIG October 2012

Crossword lover Dorothy Lyall recently asked me how I compile crosswords.

I start off with the black and white pattern of squares which we call a grid. This grid has to be carefully designed so that there are no two-letter words, not many very short or very long words (ie a reasonable number of words [more…]

Hello – BIG September 2012

When it comes to writing crossword clues, we have to be very careful when describing a word, especially when there’s another word with a similar meaning. Fortunately the other word is usually of a different length and wouldn’t fit the clue space.

However, we try to be as accurate as possible, and there are some [more…]

Hello- BIG August 2012

We hear some amazing real-life stories from our readers.

Here’s the story of Lynette Anesbury, who used our crosswords to retrain her brain.

Lynette has been doing crosswords since she was ten. A family friend introduced her to crosswords in the paper. They started having races to see who could finish the newspaper crossword first. She [more…]

Hello- BIG July 2012

The word cutlery comes from the Old French word coutellerie (related to today’s French word couteau ‘knife’) yet the words knife, fork and spoon are all from Old English. The knife was by far the earliest of the cutlery items.

The word knife comes from the Old English cnif, and the first knives would have [more…]