Tag Archives: Shakespeare
hobby

hobby

      According to one theory, the noun hobby, in its original sense of a small horse or pony, is from the French noun of same meaning formerly spelt hobin, obin, etc., now aubin. This theory says that this noun is from the French verb hober, to move, derived from the verb hobeler, to […]

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bankrupt

bankrupt

  Siena: Allegory of Bad Government (1338-39), by Ambrogio Lorenzetti (circa 1290-1348)       The noun bankrupt is from Italian bancarotta, attested since the 15th century, and its French adaptation banqueroute, first recorded in 1466. The English word is first attested in the plural form bancke rouptes in The Apology of Sir Thomas More, Knight […]

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the rub

the rub

  title page of Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies (1623)       MEANING   the central problem or difficulty in a situation     ORIGIN   The rub is from The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark (around 1600), by William Shakespeare (1564-1616): To be, or not to be: that is the […]

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malapropism

malapropism

        MEANING   the unintentional misuse of a word by confusion with one of similar sound, especially when creating a ridiculous effect     ORIGIN   The word malapropos means, as an adverb, in an inopportune or inappropriate way, and, as an adjective, inopportune or inappropriate. It is from the French locution […]

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to eat someone’s salt

to eat someone’s salt

  Fluellen intimidating Pistol (circa 1850), by Joseph Noel Paton (1821-1901)       Salt has strong symbolic connotations. The phrase the salt of the earth, which now denotes a person or group of people regarded as the finest of their kind, comes the gospel of Matthew, 5:13, where Jesus described his disciples and meant […]

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caprice

caprice

  Audrey (1888), by Philip Richard Morris (The weekly newspaper Graphic commissioned twenty-one studies of Shakespeare’s heroines, which were exhibited in London in 1888.)       MEANING   a sudden and unaccountable change of mood or behaviour     ORIGIN   Via French, the English word caprice is from Italian capriccio, which, composed of […]

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Indian summer – l’été sauvage

Indian summer – l’été sauvage

  St. John de Crèvecœur, after the portrait by Vallière, 1786         MEANING   a period of unusually calm dry warm weather, often accompanied by a hazy atmosphere, occurring in late autumn in the northern United States and Canada hence a similar period of unseasonably warm autumnal weather elsewhere     ORIGIN […]

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giddy

giddy

  John Ray (1627-1705) – image: National Portrait Gallery       MEANINGS   dizzy; affected with a reeling sensation and feeling as if about to fall causing or tending to cause vertigo impulsive; scatter-brained     ORIGIN   This adjective is from Old English gidig, insane, mad, from the Germanic base of god. Its […]

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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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cockpit

cockpit

  THE BOREL HYDROPLANE. One of the first hydro-monoplanes adopted by the Government. Driven by an 80 h.p. Gnome engine mounted in front of the fuselage on double bearings. Floats sprung at the rear on rubber shock absorbers. Chassis built of streamlined steel tubes. Pilot and passenger in separate cockpits arranged tandem fashion. A small […]

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