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. [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 [more…]
Many of the ancient pre-Christian celebrations were hijacked when Christianity arrived, and adapted – or toned down. Some of them have been forgotten altogether.
Candlemas on 2nd February was known as the festival of light in pre-Christian times. It marked the mid-point of winter, half way between the winter solstice (shortest day) and the spring [more…]
Christmas is coming and once again we prepare for the big day, as people have done for over a thousand years.
The date of 25th December was first declared by Pope Julius I, around 336 AD. The exact day on which Jesus was born was not recorded, so why was this date chosen? There were [more…]
“If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and man.” – Mark Twain.
Calling a woman a dog implies she’s ugly. Calling a man the same thing implies that he’s uncouth or of low morals, although it could also [more…]
“I want everyone to wear what they want and mix it in their own way. That, to me, is what is modern.” – Karl Lagerfeld
Many famous people are still remembered, not for their wise words or brave deeds, as they would like to be, but for the clothes they wore.
Giuseppe Garibaldi, the Italian revolutionary, [more…]
Synonym: “A word or phrase that means exactly or nearly the same as another word or phrase in the same language” – Oxford Dictionary
When is a synonym not a synonym? And does the synonym have a synonym of its own? Writing crossword clues for a living, we get to know quite a lot about [more…]
You know, somebody actually complimented me on my driving today. They left a little note on the windscreen, it said, ‘Parking Fine’. -Tommy Cooper
In the early 20th century when the automobile first came into prominence, the Sunday Drive became a popular family outing, often after church, with no motivation other than driving for pleasure [more…]
The words desert and dessert look similar, but they are very different in meaning.
Now and again, one of our crossword clues seems to hit a nerve with our puzzlers and we get a sack of mail (or a deluge of emails) claiming that a gremlin has been found. Sometimes we have made an error [more…]