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tennis

tennis

  Jeu de paume – France – 17th century     Paulme: feminine. The paulme of the hand; also, a ball; (and hence) also, Tennis (play;) also, the Palme tree. from A Dictionarie of the French and English Tongues (1611), by Randle Cotgrave     Fourthly, the inside of the Uvea is black’d like the walls […]

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‘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 eat and drink from it and never get my fill. Martin Luther - 1535     The Lord’s Prayer, le Notre-Père in French, is a central prayer in Christianity. The […]

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to have an axe to grind

to have an axe to grind

  photograph: An Ax to Grind: A Practical Ax Manual – Federal Highway Administration     Of American origin, the expression to have an axe to grind (American spelling ax) means to have a private reason for doing, or being involved in, something. It has often been attributed to Benjamin Franklin¹. For example, the New English Dictionary (NED – 1888), as the Oxford English […]

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bonfire

bonfire

  a Fifth of November bonfire in Hastings – photograph: VisitEngland       In A Dictionary of the English Language (1755), the English lexicographer Samuel Johnson (1709-84) thus defined bonfire: [from bon, good, French, and fire.] A fire made for some publick cause of triumph or exultation. In support of this etymology, bonfire in several languages is, literally, fire of joy. For example: – […]

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jingoism & chauvinism

jingoism & chauvinism

  Retour de Napoléon dans l’île de Lobau après la bataille d’Essling Charles Meynier     The English word jingo and the French word chauvin both apply to that ultra-patriotic section of the population which, in war-time, attends to the shouting.     Jingo first appeared in conjurors’ jargon of the 17th century. It was used in the oath […]

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Green, an unsettling colour

Green, an unsettling colour

      Verdigris is a bright bluish-green encrustation or patina formed on copper or brass by atmospheric oxidation, consisting of basic copper carbonate. The word verdigris is from Old French verte-gres, earlier vert de Grece, meaning green of Greece.     ETYMOLOGIES   The word green is etymologically related to the words grass and grow. And […]

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The veracious story of a worthy knight, called Sir Loin of Beef

The veracious story of a worthy knight, called Sir Loin of Beef

  At Astley Hall (Lancashire), you can still see this chair… … with the following explanation: Sirloin Chair – King James I reputedly knighted a loin of beef upon this chair at Hoghton Tower, Lancashire, in 1617. Se non è vero, è ben trovato. (Even if it is not true, it makes a good story.)     The […]

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