‘Temptation’ in the Lord’s Prayer

‘Temptation’ in the Lord’s Prayer

  Notre Dame du Port – Clermont Ferrand (France)         To this day I suckle at the Lord’s Prayer like a child, and as an old man ...

The resistible rise of Marine Le Pen

The resistible rise of Marine Le Pen

     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 ...

La langue française est-elle sexiste ?

La langue française est-elle sexiste ?

    You can read the article in English here Vous pouvez lire l’article en anglais ici       Considérons les termes français suivants, avec leurs équivalents anglais :   ...

Highlights

Point-blank – de but en blanc

Point-blank – de but en blanc

  Gunner’s quadrant Quadrant consisting of two arms of unequal length joined ...
Buttonhole

Buttonhole

            The verb buttonhole not only means ...
A fine kettle of fish

A fine kettle of fish

            The word kettle is from Old ...

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Dungeon – donjon

Dungeon – donjon

    A view of Dungeon Hill (now Dane John Mound), Canterbury, Kent, in the late 18th century The Romans built the city wall to incorporate an ancient mound. Later the Normans built their first castle on top of the mound but it was soon replaced by the present Norman Castle built to the west. […]

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Nantes

Nantes

      Barbara (Monique Andrée Serf – 1930-93)     Nantes – Barbara (suivi des paroles en français - followed by the lyrics in English) cliquez sur la flèche – click on the arrow     Il pleut sur Nantes Donne-moi la main Le ciel de Nantes Rend mon cœur chagrin   Un matin comme […]

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To make no bones about

To make no bones about

    Records from 1173 show people skated on frozen Moorfields marsh, in the north of London. Skates like these were made from animal bones.       The phrase to make no bones about (or of) something means to have no hesitation in stating or dealing with something, however unpleasant or awkward it is. […]

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Apple-pie order

Apple-pie order

   Apple pie         The phrase apple-pie order means perfect order or neatness.   Some of its early uses show that its meaning was not common at the very end of the 18th century: It was a neat little mansion, and every thing about it seemed, as Nancy said, in such grand […]

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Bombast

Bombast

            Bombast is high-sounding language with little meaning, used to impress people. This is a figurative use of the word, which dates back to the mid-16th century and originally denoted raw cotton or cotton wool used as padding.   The English word is from an earlier bombace, an Old French […]

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Cap-a-pie

Cap-a-pie

  Jean Froissart and Espaing de Lyon on their way; Gaston Phébus receiving them (circa 1450-1460) From Jean Froissart, Kroniek (Vol. III), translated from the French by Gerrit Potter van de Loo       The adverb cap-a-pie (pie pronounced as the word pea) means (dressed, armed) from head to foot. It appeared as a military term […]

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Eating in the Romance languages

Eating in the Romance languages

          The standard Classical Latin verb for to eat was edere (the infinitive was also ēsse), from which is derived English edible, and with which English eat is cognate.   The Latin verb comedere/comesse, a compound of the intensive prefix com- and the verb edere/ēsse, meant to eat up, consume. From […]

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Not one jot or tittle

Not one jot or tittle

  The Spın̈al Tap logo, with an umlaut over the n and no tittle over the i         The phrase not one jot or tittle is redundant, as both jot and tittle mean an extremely small amount.   This was originally a reference to Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount in the gospel […]

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On the side of the angels

On the side of the angels

  Benjamin Disraeli, photographed by Cornelius Jabez Hughes – 1878         The phrase on the side of the angels means on the side of what is right.   It was coined by Benjamin Disraeli in an 1864 speech at Oxford University.   Intense controversy was then in progress over the implications of […]

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To take someone aback

To take someone aback

    Ship in a storm – 1887 – Ivan Aivazovsky           The adverb aback is from Old English on bæc (on being a preposition and bæc a noun). It meant towards, or situated in, the rear, backwards. (Its formation is therefore similar to that of aside, ashore and asleep for […]

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