Christine Lovatt’s Hello Column

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

Hello – BIG May 2014

Rat: a rodent that resembles a large mouse, typically having a pointed snout and a long tail.I’m sure some of you will recoil with horror at the mention of rats, because of the bad press they have had for years...

Hello – BIG April 2014

“Be not afraid of greatness; some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them” William Shakespeare

Hello – BIG August 2013

There may have been a time when all the lands of the world were joined. Way back in 1596, Flemish geographer Abraham Ortelius suggested that the Americas were “torn away from Europe and Africa ... by earthquakes and floods".

Hello – BIG July 2013

Words, just like us, come from families. Some are related to each other and have ancient ancestors.

It’s not always an obvious relationship. For instance, the words free and friend both came from an Indo-European root meaning ‘to love’.

You wouldn’t think there was a connection between biscuit, precocious and concoct but they all come from [more…]

Hello – BIG June 2013

The English language is like a high-speed moving train, with new words jumping on and old words dropping off constantly.

Most of the words we use in the English language today are of foreign origin. Many basic words came from Anglo-Saxon or Scandinavian and English still derives much of its vocabulary from Latin and Greek, [more…]

Hello – BIG May 2013

How much difference does one little letter make in a word? Take the T in egotism for example. You might think that there’s little difference between egoism and egotism, and they do have their similarities. But there is a major difference...

Hello – BIG April 2013

When we hear something we don’t understand, we say “It’s all Greek to me”. This might be closer to the truth than we realise, because about a quarter of the words we use originally came from ancient Greek, either directly or through Latin and French.

‘Brotherly love’ in Greek is philia, [more…]

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…]