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 of Matthew ...

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 :   Fils                   Fille ...

Secularism and religion in France

Secularism and religion in France

  As a French citizen, I’m always surprised that in Great Britain, State and Religion are linked. For example, it would be totally unthinkable in France that the Head of ...

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 ...
a fine kettle of fish

a fine kettle of fish

        The word kettle is from Old English cetel, cietel, of ...
‘Temptation’ in the Lord’s Prayer

‘Temptation’ in the Lord’s Prayer

  Notre Dame du Port – Clermont Ferrand (France)     To ...

Latest News

referendum

referendum

  A protester holds up a banner during the Melbourne stands with Greece solidarity rally outside Parliament House in Melbourne on 4th July 2015 – photograph: AFP/Getty Images   When the entire world had lost all hope, the Greek people dared to question the invincibility of the German monster raising against it the proud spirit […]

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‘bird’

‘bird’

  Samuel Johnson, circa 1772, by Joshua Reynolds       The noun bird is from the masculine Old English brid (plural briddas), in Northumbrian, bird (plural birdas). There is no corresponding form in any other Germanic language, and the etymology is unknown. A connection with the nouns brood and breed is doubtful. The usual […]

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to rob

to rob

  peregrine falcon – photograph: International Falconry Forum       The verb to rob is from Anglo-Norman and Old French forms such as robier, robber and rober, meaning to plunder a town, village, etc., to steal something, to rob a person. These forms are from the Germanic base of the verb to reave, meaning […]

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idiot

idiot

  Geoffrey Chaucer (circa 1342-1400) as a pilgrim – from the Ellesmere Manuscript, an early 15th-century illuminated manuscript of the Canterbury Tales       MEANING   A stupid person     ORIGIN   Via Old French, the English noun idiot is from Latin idiota, meaning uneducated, ignorant, inexperienced, common person. This Latin noun was […]

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daddy-long-legs

daddy-long-legs

  photograph: Fairfax County Public Schools     PERSECUTION In one of those moods of philosophical pleasantry and erudite whimsicality in which the Archbishop of Dublin sometimes relaxes from weighty affairs, he is reported, says the Household Words, to have made the following quotation and comment: “Old Father Long-legs wouldn’t say his prayers: Take him […]

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ostracism

ostracism

  ostrakon against the Athenian statesman Themistocles (circa 528-462 BC) photograph: Wikimedia Commons/Giovanni Dall’Orto       MEANING   Exclusion from a society or group     ORIGIN   In Athens and other ancient Greek cities, ostracism was a political measure by which citizens whose power or influence was considered dangerous to the state were […]

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the world is one’s oyster

the world is one’s oyster

  Still-Life with Oysters (1630s) by Alexander Adriaenssen (1587-1661)       MEANING   Alluding to the possibility of finding a pearl in an oyster, this phrase means that one is in a position to profit from the opportunities that life, or a particular situation, may offer.     ORIGIN   It was coined by William […]

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marguerite

marguerite

  ox-eye daisy flower photograph: Wikimedia Commons/Tony Wills       Borrowed from French in the early 17th century, marguerite originally denoted the common daisy. It is now another term for the ox-eye daisy; also called moon daisy, this plant has large white flowers with yellow centres (scientific name: Leucanthemum vulgare, family Compositae).   The same […]

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cockney

cockney

  Cheapside and Bow Church – 1837 image: FamilySearch/Nathan W. Murphy       MEANING   The noun cockney was thus defined by Nathan Bailey in An Universal Etymological English Dictionary (1731 edition): A Nick-name given to one who is born and bred in the City of London, or within the Sound of Bow Bell*; […]

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nincompoop

nincompoop

  P. G. Wodehouse in 1904     Oh, Bertie, if ever I called you a brainless poop who ought to be given a scholarship at some good lunatic asylum, I take back the words. P. G. Wodehouse - Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit (1954)     MEANING   A nincompoop is a stupid or foolish person. This noun […]

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