Tag Archives: grammar
nul points

nul points

  Seventies spectacle – Brotherhood of Man featured on Channel 4’s Top Ten – Eurovision There was once a time when it [= the Eurovision Song Contest], along with Miss World and the FA Cup Final, formed part of an annual must-see television triumvirate. The only people who did not watch it were social deviants […]

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starboard – port

starboard – port

  image: nageur-sauveteur     MEANINGS   The noun starboard denotes the side of a ship or aircraft that is on the right when one is facing forward, while port denotes the opposing side.     ORIGINS   From the Germanic bases of the nouns steer and board, starboard, which appeared in Old English as steorbord, […]

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Mayday

Mayday

  Frederick Stanley Mockford’s gravestone at Selmeston, East Sussex, England – photograph: Geoffrey Gillon/Find A Grave     The word Mayday, which dates from 1923, is used as an international radio distress signal, especially by ships and aircraft. It was supposedly coined by Frederick Stanley Mockford (1897-1962), a senior radio officer at London’s Croydon Airport, […]

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far from the madding crowd

far from the madding crowd

  Thomas Gray (1747-48), by John Giles Eccardt image: National Portrait Gallery     The phrase far from the madding crowd is used in reference to a private or secluded place. It is an allusion to An Elegy wrote in a Country Church Yard (published in 1751), by the English poet Thomas Gray (1716-71). When he composed this poem, Thomas Gray was living near […]

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corduroy

corduroy

  photograph: javi.velazquez       MEANING   a heavy cotton pile fabric with lengthways ribs     ORIGIN: UNKNOWN   The original form of this noun, in the late 18th century, was corderoy. The earliest use of the word that I could find is in The Manchester Mercury (Lancashire) of Tuesday 7th April 1772: Manchester, March 23, 1772. STOLEN. From […]

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babblative

    MEANING   having a tendency to babble; loquacious     ORIGIN   This adjective is composed of the verb babble and the suffix -ative. The English suffix -ative is from the French -atif (masculine), -ative (feminine), from the Latin -ativus, consisting of the adjectival suffix -ivus appended to past participial stems in -at- […]

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Miss & Ms

    The word miss, used as a title prefixed to the name of an unmarried woman or girl and as a form of address, was originally short for mistress. It first appeared as mis, perhaps a graphic abbreviation of the form mistris. (Similarly, Mr and Mrs are abbreviations of master and mistress.) The noun […]

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Mr & Mrs

    Mr and Mrs were originally the abbreviations of master and mistress, while mister and missus (also spelt missis) are the renderings of the altered pronunciation of master and mistress in Mr and Mrs. It must be noted however that, before being the rendering of the pronunciation of Mr, mister was a mere variant […]

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omelette

    MEANING   a dish of beaten eggs cooked in a frying pan and served plain or with a savoury or sweet topping or filling     ORIGIN   It is an early-17th-century borrowing from French omelette, which is attested in the mid-16th century and is an alteration of amelette. The change in the initial […]

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‘ado’

    MEANINGS   – ado: a state of agitation or fuss – without further, or more, ado: without further fuss or delay – much ado about nothing: a great deal of fuss or trouble over nothing of any significance     ORIGIN   The noun ado is from northern Middle English at do, of Scandinavian […]

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