Tag Archives: orthography
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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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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to warm the cockles of one’s heart

to warm the cockles of one’s heart

  Parsons bottled pickled shellfish       MEANING   to give one a comforting feeling of contentment     ORIGIN: UNKNOWN   The noun cockle now denotes specifically an edible burrowing bivalve mollusc with a strong ribbed shell common on sandy coasts (Genus Cardium, family Cardiidae). But it was formerly applied more vaguely to […]

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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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ostracism

ostracism

  ostrakon against the Athenian statesman Themistocles (circa 528-462 BC) photograph: Wikimedia Commons/Giovanni Dall’Orto       MEANING   Exclusion from a society or group     ORIGIN   In Athens and other ancient Greek cities, ostracism was a political measure by which citizens whose power or influence was considered dangerous to the state were […]

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pumpernickel

pumpernickel

  photograph: Wikimedia Commons/Matt314       MEANING   Dark, dense German bread made from coarsely ground wholemeal rye.   The word is first recorded in English in The German Spy: or, Familiar Letters from A Gentleman on his Travels thro’ Germany to His Friend in England (1738) by the English writer and surveyor Thomas […]

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to blackball

to blackball

  Mary Delany (née Granville) – 1782 – by John Opie photograph: National Portrait Gallery         MEANINGS   – To reject a candidate applying to become a member of a club or other society by means of a secret ballot. – To exclude someone from society, a profession, etc.; to ostracise.   […]

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tantrum

tantrum

  The White House had some unexpected drama when the daughter of journalist Laura Moser threw herself face-down on the carpet – at President Obama’s feet. New York Daily News – 23d May 2015       Often used in the plural, tantrum denotes an uncontrolled outburst of anger and frustration, typically in a young […]

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picayune

picayune

  front page of The Daily Picayune, 21st September 1909, New Orleans, after a hurricane – photograph: nola.com       Originally, in southern United States, especially Louisiana, a picayune was a Spanish half-real, and in later use a 5-cent piece or other coin of little value. In his diary, on 4th November 1804, the […]

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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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