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Word of the DayLEGERDEMAIN (Noun, English) Skilled, dexterous use of the hands when performing magical tricks. Has also taken on a pejorative meaning of deceit or trickery. Note: Cited originally in English during the 16th century. From the French phrase 'léger de main' (light of hand).
Category Archives: etymology
The Hidden Past of Words: English final -y
Consider the following list of everyday English words: memory, happy, baby, crazy, victory, city, silly, puppy, army For starters, they all end in -y and they can be grouped further as nouns (memory, baby, victory, city, puppy, army) or adjectives … Continue reading
Forming the plural of a noun in English is pretty easy — mostly you add final -s to the singular form (with occasional spelling modifications: story -> stories). Linguists refer to nouns that form their plurals with final -s as … Continue reading
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Have you ever noticed that, while some words which take a prefix seem to form nice pairings with opposite meaning polarity (tie/untie, compliance/noncompliance, tasteful/distasteful), other pairs don’t work this way? For example, there is nonplussed, but not plussed, insipid, but … Continue reading
Posted in etymology, language change, Semantics, Word Formation, Word Usage Tagged back-formation, language change, recombobulation area, semantic pairs 2 Comments
Happy Summer Solstice, NoHem!
Today is the summer solstice for the northern hemisphere — a consequence of the geometry of the sphere-with-a-tilted-axis that we call home in our solar system. Today the sun will reach its highest point in the sky at (solar) noon, … Continue reading
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Have you ever wondered why walnuts have surfaces with ridges and grooves whereas almost all other nuts are smooth? Pecans have rows of ridges, but hazel nuts, cashews, brazil nuts, almonds, macademia nuts and pistachios are all smooth, even though … Continue reading
Posted in etymology, history of language, names, Word Usage Tagged etymology, filbert, hazelnut, name origins, nuts, walnut 3 Comments
Today’s word of the day is fortnight. When I first heard this word as a kid, I immediately concluded it had something to do with forts and battlements, some length of time during which soldiers of kings did something or … Continue reading
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