Tag Archives: phonetics
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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buccaneer

buccaneer

  Insulae Americanae Nempe: Cuba, Hispaniola, Iamaica, Pto Rico, Lucania, Antillae vulgo Caribe, Barlo-et Sotto-Vento Etc. – Reiner & Josua Ottens – Amsterdam – circa 1740 – image: Barry Lawrence Ruderman Antique Maps Inc.     A buccaneer, from French boucanier, was originally one of the French settlers in Hispaniola or Hayti [sic] and Tortugas, […]

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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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campus

campus

  (click on image to enlarge) In June 1520, Henry VIII and King Francis I of France met near Calais at the Field of Cloth of Gold (camp du Drap d’Or in French) in an attempt to strengthen the bond between the two countries. Each king tried to outshine the other, with dazzling tents and […]

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‘gin’

‘gin’

  Gin Lane (1751) by William Hogarth     The Latin noun juniperus is the origin of the English juniper and of the Old French genevre (modern French genièvre), which was adopted in Middle Dutch as genever (modern Dutch jenever). In the early 17th century, this Dutch noun came to be used in the sense […]

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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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butterfly

butterfly

  photograph: Steve Ogden - Wildlife Insight     This noun, which appeared around the year 1000 as buttorfleoge, is simply a compound of butter and fly, and not – as sometimes poetically suggested – an alteration of flutter by. The reason for this name is unknown. Dutch had botervlieg and German Butterfliege, which, like the […]

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constable – marshal

constable – marshal

  photograph: Institut de la maréchalerie     The noun constable, which dates back to the mid-13th century, is from Old French cunestable, conestable (modern French connétable), representing the Late Latin comes stabuli, meaning count, or officer, of the stable, marshal. (The Latin noun comes/comit-, which is the origin of count in the sense of […]

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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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