Word Talk

If you’re a crossword solver, you’re bound to be a word lover…

So we know you’re going to enjoy exploring Word Talk, where we look at many of the Words and Phrases in our fascinating English language, what they mean and where they came from. Filling The Gaps provides the story behind some of the people, places and events used in Lovatts crosswords.

Grog

Old Grogram was the nickname of British Admiral Edward Vernon.

He acquired this name because of the grogram coat he always wore.

In 1740 Admiral Vernon started serving a mix of rum and water to sailors in the Royal Navy instead of the neat rum handed out previously.

This became known as grog.

This grog ration was [more…]

Hat trick

Have you ever achieved the same thing three times only to be told you have completed a hat trick, when what you were doing had nothing to do with hats?

A hat trick comes from the game of cricket and dates back to the late 1800s.

Hat trick described the feat of a bowler to [more…]

Kick the bucket

To kick the bucket is one of the many euphemisms meaning to die. Its origins are fairly gruesome!

A likely source of this phrase comes from pig farming. One method of slaughtering a pig used to involve hanging it upside down from a beam in the barn designed for the purpose and called a “bucket.” [more…]

Electricity

Where would we be without electricity? If you ever have a blackout it is a reminder of how reliant we are on plugging things in!

Early scholars like Thales of Miletus (600 BC) and Pliny (AD 70) made the observation that amber, when rubbed, had the power to attract light objects like bits of straw [more…]

Raining cats and dogs

This describes a heavy cloudburst and there are different theories as to how the expression came to be, the first of which is from Norse mythology.

The cat was supposed to have great influence on the weather and witches that rode on storms were said to assume the form of cats. The dog and wolf, [more…]

The Real McCoy

Is it the Real McCoy? – Is it the genuine article?

This phrase stems from a story about the world class welterweight boxing champion Charles ‘Kid’ McCoy. Supposedly he was at some time challenged to prove that he was who he said he was and so he knocked out the inquirer! When the man came [more…]

Back to square one

This phrase sounds like it has its origins in crosswords but it originated from the early days of radio broadcasting of football matches.

So that listeners could follow the match more easily, a diagram of the pitch was published in the radio programme.

The diagram was divided into numbered squares and of course, the numbers started [more…]

Codswallop

Codswallop!

If something is a load of old codswallop it is nonsense or of no value. Where does this odd word come from?
One theory speaks of Hiram C Codd, who in the 1870s, went into business selling lemonade in green glass bottles with marble stoppers.
‘Wallop’ was a nineteenth century slang term for beer and [more…]

Alphabet

The word ALPHABET is derived from the first two letters of the Greek alphabet, ALPHA and BETA.

When it was first introduced into English, some purists, or nit-pickers, thought that the word should be used purely to describe the Greek version. The English version should be referred to as the ABC, or the abece. An [more…]