Tag Archives: Celtic languages
clock – cloak

clock – cloak

  cloak: twin roses designs     The nouns clock and cloak are doublets, or etymological twins: they are of the same derivation but have different forms and meanings. Despite the notion of ‘two’ implied by doublet, the term is also applied to sets of more than two words. In this case, cloche, a borrowing from French, must be added to clock and cloak.   […]

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Wales – Cymru

Wales – Cymru

                      Briton settlements in the 6th century – settlements of the Angles, Saxons and Jutes in Britain, circa 600     In the following, Briton will refer to the Celtic Brittonic-speaking peoples who inhabited Britain south of the Firth of Forth, and who, following the arrival of the Anglo-Saxons in […]

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to send to Coventry

    MEANING   to ostracise or ignore     ORIGIN   Coventry is a city in the west Midlands of England, historically in Warwickshire. In Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (1870 edition), Ebenezer Cobham Brewer (1810-97) gave the following origin of the phrase: This is a military term, according to Messrs. Chambers (“Cyclopædia”): The […]

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pogue

    MEANING   a kiss     ORIGIN   This Irish English noun, which has also been spelt poge, poage and póg, is from Irish póg, meaning a kiss. In An Irish-English Dictionary (1864), Edward O’Reilly gave the following translations: – pog, substantive feminine, a kiss; Welsh, poc. – pogadh, substantive, kissing. – pogaim, […]

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jewel – bijou

jewel – bijou

  Horace Walpole (circa 1756-57), by Sir Joshua Reynolds image: National Portrait Gallery       The noun jewel, which dates back to the late 13th century, is from Old French and Anglo-Norman forms such as juel, jeuiel, jouel, joyel, etc. The plural forms were juaux, jeuiauls, jouaux, joyaulx, etc. This is why the modern […]

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slogan

slogan

  The Death of Chatterton (1856), by Henry Wallis (1830-1916)         A slogan was originally a war cry or battle cry employed by Scottish Highlanders or Borderers, or by the native Irish, usually consisting of a personal surname or the name of a gathering-place. The word is from Gaelic sluagh-ghairm, composed of […]

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bugbear

bugbear

  a lamia, from The History of Four-footed Beasts and Serpents (1658) (A lamia was a fabulous monster supposed to have the body of a woman, and to prey upon human beings and suck the blood of children.)       MEANING   a cause of obsessive fear, anxiety or irritation     ORIGIN   […]

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Albion

Albion

  The name Albion did not originally refer to the white cliffs of Dover. (photograph: Wikimedia Commons/Fanny)       The name Albion first appeared in English in the very first sentence of the first Book of the 9th-century translation of Historia ecclesiastica gentis anglorum (The Ecclesiastical History of the English People) originally written by the English monk, theologian […]

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sourpuss – glamour puss

sourpuss – glamour puss

    Puss [u sounded as in ‘full’]; the mouth and lips, always used in dialect in an offensive or contemptuous sense:—“What an ugly puss that fellow has.” “He had a puss on him,” i.e. he looked sour or displeased—with lips contracted. I heard one boy say to another:—“I’ll give you a skelp (blow) on […]

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tantrum

tantrum

  The White House had some unexpected drama when the daughter of journalist Laura Moser threw herself face-down on the carpet – at President Obama’s feet. New York Daily News – 23d May 2015       Often used in the plural, tantrum denotes an uncontrolled outburst of anger and frustration, typically in a young […]

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