Tag Archives: grammar
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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candidate

candidate

      In Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (1898 edition), Ebenezer Cobham Brewer tells us that: Those who solicited the office of consul, quæstor, prætor, etc., among the Romans, arrayed themselves in a loose white robe. It was loose that they might show the people their scars, and white in sign of fidelity and […]

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innuendo

innuendo

  detail of the US one-dollar bill The eye and the pyramid shown on the reverse side of the one-dollar bill are in the Great Seal of the United States. The Great Seal was first used on the reverse of the one-dollar Federal Reserve note in 1935. The Department of State is the official keeper […]

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Chester-Le-Street

Chester-Le-Street

  Chester-Le-Street – Front Street photograph: Wikimedia Commons/John Blackburne       The obsolete noun chester denoted a city or walled town. It is from Old English ceaster, from Latin castra, a plural neuter meaning camp. The noun chester has often been applied to places in Britain which had originally been Roman encampments. This is […]

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eve – even

eve – even

  Evensong in York Minster – photograph: Allan Engelhardt     A number of Old English words ending in -en show loss of final -n early in the Middle English period. The original form was often eventually entirely replaced by that without final -n, but eve, like morrow and maid, came to exist as a doublet […]

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avoirdupois

avoirdupois

  Old brass and bronze avoirdupois weights photograph: Things I want to know     Avoirdupois, or avoirdupois weight, is a system of weights used in many English-speaking countries. It is based on the pound, which contains 16 ounces or 7000 grains. 100 US pounds or British 112 pounds is equal to 1 hundredweight, and […]

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