The new, reassuring face of old extremism Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Gospel ...
The Ridotto in Venice – 1750s by the Venetian painter Pietro Longhi (circa 1701-85) A domino is a kind of loose cloak, apparently of Venetian origin, chiefly worn at masquerades, with a small mask covering the upper part of the face, by persons not personating a character. The word, first recorded in […]
La Condition humaine – 1933 – René Magritte An easel is a wooden frame to support a picture while the painter is at work upon it; it is also a similar frame used to support a blackboard. The word is first recorded in 1634 in The Mysteryes of Nature and Art, by […]
a two-scruple (℈ij) apothecary weight coin photograph: Numista The word scruple, usually scruples, denotes a feeling of doubt or hesitation with regard to the morality or propriety of a course of action. Through French scrupule, this word is from Latin scrupulus, literally small rough or sharp stone. Probably because such stones used […]
Behind the façade of rationality presented by the names of metals as they appear today in the periodic table of elements lurks a background of folk belief. The noun nickel was borrowed in the late 18th century from Swedish nickel, a shortening of German Kupfernickel. This German word is composed of […]
Strabo as depicted in a 16th-century engraving The adjective germane means relevant to a subject under consideration: I wonder whether she ever sang lullabies to me in my cradle. If so, it must have scared me cross-eyed, giving me the illusion that the boiler had exploded. However, that is not germane to […]
Fábula de Mercurio y Argos (1659) by Diego Velázquez To be Argus-eyed is to be vigilant. Argus, the Latinised form of Greek Argos, was thus defined in A Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology (1849), edited by William Smith: Argus Surnamed Panoptes. He derived his surname, Panoptes, the all-seeing, […]
The Mediterranean (Sea) is the almost landlocked sea separating southern Europe from Africa, connected with the Atlantic Ocean by the Strait of Gibraltar, with the Black Sea by the Bosporus, and (since 1869) with the Red Sea by the Suez Canal. The adjective and noun Mediterranean is from the classical Latin […]