Tag Archives: science
doryphore

doryphore

  “Death to the Doryphores” is slogan of schoolchildren off for potato-bug catching. In France “doryphores” is nickname for food-grabbing Germans, who love potatoes. from Vichy vs. France, by Richard de Rochemont – magazine Life, 1st September 1941       The French noun doryphore denotes the Colorado beetle, a yellow-and-black beetle native to America, […]

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supercilious

supercilious

    MEANING   displaying arrogant pride, scorn, or indifference     ORIGIN   This word dates back to the first half of the 16th century. It is a borrowing from the Latin adjective superciliosus, meaning haughty, disdainful, and censorious, severe. This Latin word was in turn derived from the noun supercilium, meaning an eyebrow, […]

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motherese

motherese

  Elissa Lee Newport – image: The Franklin Institute       In social psychology and linguistics, motherese, or Motherese, denotes a simplified form of language used especially by mothers in speaking to babies and young children, characterised by repetition, simple sentence structure, limited vocabulary, onomatopoeia, and expressive intonation. This term is composed of the […]

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‘onyx’

‘onyx’

  photograph: Health This Year      MEANING   a semi-precious variety of agate with different colours in layers     ORIGIN   Via Anglo-Norman and Old French forms such as onix and onice (Modern French onyx), the English word is from Latin onyx/onych-. This Latin noun is from Greek ὄνυξ/ὀνυχ- (onux/onukh-), which literally meant […]

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petrichor

petrichor

  photograph: Evdaimon/Wikimedia Commons     The pleasant smell that frequently accompanies the first rain after a long period of warm, dry weather is called petrichor. The word also denotes an oily liquid mixture of organic compounds which collects in the ground and is believed to be responsible for this smell. This word is composed […]

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ailurophile

ailurophile

      An ailurophile is a cat lover, and an ailurophobe is a person who has an intense fear of, or aversion to, cats. These words are based on ancient Greek ἀίλουρος (ailouros)*, also αἰέλουρος (aielouros), meaning cat, perhaps, as reported by ancient grammarians, composed of αἰόλος (aiolos), swift, and οὐρά (oura), tail**, the […]

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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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once in a blue moon

once in a blue moon

      Unrelated to the phrase once in a blue moon, the astronomical term blue moon first appeared in the USA in August 1937: Maine Farmers’ Almanac used it to denote the third full moon in a season which exceptionally contains four full moons (as defined by the mean sun, each season normally contains three full […]

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jejune

jejune

      The primary sense of the Latin adjective jejunus was fasting, hungry, abstinent. Figuratively, it meant dry, barren, unproductive, and scanty, insignificant in quantity. It was especially used in the following senses: – poor, barren, powerless – insignificant, trifling, contemptible, mean, low – of speech: meagre, dry, feeble, spiritless – destitute of, without, […]

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torpedo

torpedo

  1912 Fiat Type 3 torpedo     The original meaning of torpedo is a flat fish of the genus Torpedo or family Torpedinidæ, having an almost circular body with tapering tail, and characterised by the faculty of emitting electric discharges. It is also called electric ray, cramp-ray, cramp-fish and numbfish. The word is from Latin […]

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