Tag Archives: phonetics
barmy

barmy

    Barm is the froth that forms on the top of fermenting malt liquors. It is used to leaven bread, and to cause fermentation in other liquors. This is why the literal senses of the adjective barmy are: – of, full of, or covered with, barm, – frothing. Therefore, barmy came to be applied […]

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soft soap & soft solder

soft soap & soft solder

      James Russell Lowell circa 1855         Soft soap, or green soap, is a soft or liquid alkaline soap made from vegetable oils, used in treating certain chronic skin diseases.   Figuratively, soft soap means flattering, persuasive, or cajoling talk. And the verb soft-soap means to use such talk on […]

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tennis

tennis

  Jeu de paume – France – 17th century     Paulme: feminine. The paulme of the hand; also, a ball; (and hence) also, Tennis (play;) also, the Palme tree. from A Dictionarie of the French and English Tongues (1611), by Randle Cotgrave     Fourthly, the inside of the Uvea is black’d like the walls […]

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cheese – fromage

cheese – fromage

  “Comment voulez-vous gouverner un pays qui a deux-cent quarante-six variétés de fromage ?” (“How can you govern a country which has two hundred and forty-six varieties of cheese?”) attributed to Charles de Gaulle (1890-1970), French general and statesman, in Les mots du général de Gaulle (1962), by Ernest Mignon photograph: fémivin.com   The word cheese is from Old English cēse, cȳse, […]

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The ‘one’ in ‘alone’

The ‘one’ in ‘alone’

  William Tyndale (1494-1536)     Why is the element ‘one’ in alone and only not pronounced like the numeral one? And why does English, unlike most European languages, distinguish between a book and one book?   The Old English word ān has given both the indefinite article an (a before consonant) and the numeral one. In Scotland, ane has survived both as […]

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The veracious story of a worthy knight, called Sir Loin of Beef

The veracious story of a worthy knight, called Sir Loin of Beef

  At Astley Hall (Lancashire), you can still see this chair… … with the following explanation: Sirloin Chair – King James I reputedly knighted a loin of beef upon this chair at Hoghton Tower, Lancashire, in 1617. Se non è vero, è ben trovato. (Even if it is not true, it makes a good story.)     The […]

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