Tag Archives: grammar
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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referendum

referendum

  A protester holds up a banner during the Melbourne stands with Greece solidarity rally outside Parliament House in Melbourne on 4th July 2015 – photograph: AFP/Getty Images       MEANING   A referendum is a general vote by the electorate on a single political question which has been referred to them for a […]

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to rob

to rob

  peregrine falcon – photograph: International Falconry Forum       The verb to rob is from Anglo-Norman and Old French forms such as robier, robber and rober, meaning to plunder a town, village, etc., to steal something, to rob a person. These forms are from the Germanic base of the verb to reave, meaning […]

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monger

monger

  The Fish Stall (La Pescheria), by Bartolomeo Passerotti (1529-92) Galleria Nazionale di Arte Antica di Palazzo Barberini, Roma       The noun monger appeared in Old English in forms such as mangere and mangare. It was not only, as it is now, used as a combining form denoting a dealer or trader in […]

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sherry

sherry

  Falstaff mit Handschuhen, Zinnkanne und Weinglas (Falstaff with gloves, pewter jug and wine glass – 1919) by Eduard von Grützner     The word sherry is an alteration of the obsolete sherris, also spelt sherries, which was mistaken for a plural. The original word was a rendering of Spanish (vino de) Xeres, (wine of) […]

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ladybird

ladybird

  ladybird on strawberry leaf – photograph: nutmeg66       A coccinellid is a beetle of the family Coccinellidae. The genus name Coccinella is from Latin coccineus, scarlet (cochineal, a scarlet dye, has the same origin). This family includes the ladybirds (ladybugs in American English).The scientific name of the common European seven-spot ladybird is […]

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