Etymology gleanings for October 2016

Mr. Madhukar Gogate, a retired engineer from India, has written me several times, and I want to comment on some of his observations. He notes that there is no interest in the reform in Great Britain
Mr. Madhukar Gogate, a retired engineer from India, has written me several times, and I want to comment on some of his observations. He notes that there is no interest in the reform in Great Britain [More]

Blessing and cursing part 2: curse

Curse is a much more complicated concept than blessing, because there are numerous ways to wish someone bad luck. Oral tradition (“folklore”) has retained countless examples of imprecations. Someone
Curse is a much more complicated concept than blessing, because there are numerous ways to wish someone bad luck. Oral tradition (“folklore”) has retained countless examples of imprecations. Someone [More]

The origin of the word “slang” is known!

Caution is a virtue, but, like every other virtue, it can be practiced with excessive zeal and become a vice (like parsimony turning into stinginess). The negative extreme of caution is
Caution is a virtue, but, like every other virtue, it can be practiced with excessive zeal and become a vice (like parsimony turning into stinginess). The negative extreme of caution is [More]

The origin of the word SLANG is known!

Caution is a virtue, but, like every other virtue, it can be practiced with excessive zeal and become a vice (like parsimony turning into stinginess). The negative extreme of caution is
Caution is a virtue, but, like every other virtue, it can be practiced with excessive zeal and become a vice (like parsimony turning into stinginess). The negative extreme of caution is [More]

Sticking my oar in, or catching and letting go of the crab

Last week some space was devoted to the crawling, scratching crab, so that perhaps enlarging on the topic “Crab in Idioms” may not be quite out of place. The plural in the previous sentence is an
Last week some space was devoted to the crawling, scratching crab, so that perhaps enlarging on the topic “Crab in Idioms” may not be quite out of place. The plural in the previous sentence is an [More]

Down to earth, or moving slowly, with the body close to the ground: “creep” and “crawl”

My travel through the English kr-words began with the verb creep, for I have for a long time tried to solve its mystery. On the face of it, there is no mystery. The verb has existed in Germanic from
My travel through the English kr-words began with the verb creep, for I have for a long time tried to solve its mystery. On the face of it, there is no mystery. The verb has existed in Germanic from [More]

Our habitat: booth

This post has been written in response to a query from our correspondent. An answer would have taken up the entire space of my next “gleanings,” and I decided not to wait a whole month. The post Our
This post has been written in response to a query from our correspondent. An answer would have taken up the entire space of my next “gleanings,” and I decided not to wait a whole month. The post Our [More]

“Clown”: The KL-series pauses for a while

Those who have followed this series will remember that English kl-words form a loose fraternity of clinging, clinking, and clotted-cluttered things. Clover, cloth, clod, cloud, and clout have
Those who have followed this series will remember that English kl-words form a loose fraternity of clinging, clinking, and clotted-cluttered things. Clover, cloth, clod, cloud, and clout have [More]

As black as what?

All words, especially kl-words, and no play will make anyone dull. The origin of popular sayings is an amusing area of linguistics, but, unlike the origin of words, it presupposes no technical
All words, especially kl-words, and no play will make anyone dull. The origin of popular sayings is an amusing area of linguistics, but, unlike the origin of words, it presupposes no technical [More]

Sartor resartus, or some thoughts on the origin of the word “cloth” and the history of clothes

I keep clawing at the bars of the cage I built for myself. But first a digression. Walter W. Skeat wrote numerous notes on English etymology, some of which he eventually put together and published
I keep clawing at the bars of the cage I built for myself. But first a digression. Walter W. Skeat wrote numerous notes on English etymology, some of which he eventually put together and published [More]