Tag Archives: grammar
promenade concert

promenade concert

  the Proms (2015) – photograph: BBC       A promenade concert is a concert at which some of the audience stand rather than sit.   In French, promenade is attested in 1599 in the sense of a place for promenading, and in 1671 in that of a leisurely walk. With addition of the […]

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‘onyx’

‘onyx’

  photograph: Health This Year      MEANING   a semi-precious variety of agate with different colours in layers     ORIGIN   Via Anglo-Norman and Old French forms such as onix and onice (Modern French onyx), the English word is from Latin onyx/onych-. This Latin noun is from Greek ὄνυξ/ὀνυχ- (onux/onukh-), which literally meant […]

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preposterous

preposterous

  title page of The discouerie of witchcraft (1584)       MEANING   contrary to nature, reason, or sense; absurd; ridiculous     ORIGIN   The adjective preposterous is from Latin praeposterus, meaning reversed, inverted, perverted, distorted, absurd, etc. This Latin adjective is composed of the adverb prae, in front, before, and the adjective […]

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Sciapodes

Sciapodes

  a sciapod, from the Hereford Mappa Mundi (circa 1300)       The Sciapodes (or Monopods) were a mythical race of people supposed to have lived at the southern edge of the ancient Greek and Roman world, who each had a single leg ending in a foot of immense size with which they shaded […]

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boutique

boutique

  image: Salle 103 – Latin (Collège de Vinci – Belfort – France)         MEANINGS OF BOUTIQUE   a small shop selling fashionable clothes or accessories a business serving a sophisticated or specialised clientele     ORIGIN   In the second half of the 18th century, English borrowed the French noun boutique […]

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jeremiad

jeremiad

  Jeremiah lamenting the destruction of Jerusalem (circa 1630), by Rembrandt (1606-69)       Jeremiah (circa 650-585 BC) was a Hebrew prophet who foresaw the fall of Assyria, the conquest of his country by Egypt and Babylon, and the destruction of Jerusalem. He is traditionally regarded as the author or part-author of two Old […]

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the dog’s letter

the dog’s letter

  Daß Narrenschyff ad Narragoniam by Sebastian Brant       The dog’s letter is a name for the letter R, from its resemblance in sound to the snarl of a dog. It was so named after Latin canina litera, used by the Roman poet Persius (Aulus Persius Flaccus – 34-62) in his first Satire: […]

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slipshod

slipshod

  Three Pairs of Shoes (1886) by Vincent Van Gogh (1853-90) image: Van Gogh Gallery       MEANING   characterised by a lack of care, thought, or organisation     ORIGIN   A slip-shoe was a loosely fitting shoe or slipper. The word is first recorded in The fardle of facions conteining the aunciente […]

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blotto

blotto

  image: Tonton Vélo       MEANING   drunk     ORIGIN   The word originated in World War One British military slang. It was first recorded by Ward Muir in Observations of an Orderly: Some Glimpses of Life and Work in an English War Hospital, published in July 1917: The words for drunkenness are […]

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to vamoose

to vamoose

  frontispiece for Every Night Book; or, Life after Dark (1827), by William Clarke       MEANING   To depart hurriedly     ORIGIN   The verb to vamoose is an adaptation of the Spanish vamos, let us go, first person plural of the present subjunctive of the verb ir acting as imperative. It has […]

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