Tag Archives: folk etymology
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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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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On proverbs

  In Notes & Queries (2d series, vol. 12, July-December 1861), A. De Morgan wrote, under the title Raining cats and dogs [also read here]: The derivation kata doksa will not do for the whole phrase, which, when I was a boy, was “cats and dogs, and pitchforks with their points downwards”. The phrase seems to be […]

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to pay through the nose: folk etymology

  I have explained in another article the probable origin of to pay through the nose. In an article titled Horse-Marines, published in Notes and Queries (Series 9/II, 1898, p. 457), a certain Richard Edgcumbe gave the following folk etymology:   Then, again, “Paying through the nose”. This was originally a common expression on board ship: “Pay out the cable”, […]

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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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