The great thing about names is that if you don’t like yours, you can change it. Most names have another form, a shortening or nickname, which is known officially as a hypocorism, from the Greek hupokoristikos, ‘to use child-talk’.
Mary was probably one of the most popular names for girls in the past. To tell [more…]
If you are one of those people (like me) who makes lists, you will be interested to hear that Peter Mark Roget was such a man. If he hadn’t been, we might not have the wonderful reference book known as Roget’s Thesaurus
Roget was highly qualified in several fields. He was a physician, scholar and [more…]
Our distant cousins don’t necessarily look like us so we shouldn’t be surprised that in the world of vocabulary, word families have relatives who share a common ancestor, but have distanced themselves from each other.
The Latin word sanguis meaning ‘blood’ gives us both sanguinary ‘bloodthirsty’ and sanguine ‘happy’. Perhaps this is a hint about [more…]
Some parents or grandparents call their children lambs, or chickens – affectionate and loving terms. Many of us call our children kids.
Kid comes from a very old Norse word for a baby goat. The word has been borrowed and applied affectionately to small children for centuries, maybe because baby goats are so cute, [more…]
The word pig probably comes from the Old English picg and once only meant ‘young pig’. Adult pigs were called swine. A hog was a castrated male. A boar is the tusked, Eurasian wild pig from which our domestic pigs are descended.
To go the whole hog means to do something as completely as possible, [more…]
Whether you are a mother yourself or you are lucky enough to still have one, now’s the time of year when we honour mothers and also, to look at the word ‘mother’. It comes from a very ancient source – the Sanskrit language. You could say Sanskrit is the mother of many languages. Their [more…]
Much has been written about William Shakespeare, especially this month as we celebrate the anniversary of his death, 400 years ago. He was born on 23rd April 1564 and died on his birthday in 1616, at the age of 52.
Although his original plays and poetry are peppered with words like ‘doth’, ‘thee’ and ‘wherefore’, [more…]
Has it ever struck you as odd that Easter is represented by a rabbit sitting in a basket of chocolate eggs? For a start, rabbits don’t lay eggs, and furthermore, why are they made of chocolate?
Many of the words associated with Easter are connected to the Northern hemisphere springtime and predate Christianity. The name [more…]