With the 2020 United States presidential election now behind us, I’m thinking about candidates’ tactics heading into past elections and also about the use of campaign songs. Artists like Neil Young, the Village People and Aerosmith expressed displeasure over Donald Trump’s unauthorized use of their music. How have music and politics become so inextricably linked?
Author Archives: Rachelle Drouin
A fool’s errand: uncovering the origins of “elbow grease”
Someone close to me once worked at a hardware store. I recall his telling me about a family combing the aisles and growing very flustered. Asked what they were looking for, the family replied, “Elbow grease”. Unfortunate but not that surprising that they had taken this common expression literally and embarked on a fool’s errand, given the phrase’s origins.
Nose to the grindstone: hard at work on folk etymology
Not too long along, I asked my Twitter followers to hit me up with common expressions, idioms and colloquialisms that mention a part of the body. Many weighed in, and I thought it a good idea to put my nose to the grindstone to uncover where many of these turns of phrase originate.
The music never dies
What role do music and lyrics play in chronicling events and in helping to understand the mood of a generation? It’s not for me to speculate, but I do submit that lyrics—as much as music—play an unequivocal role in chronicling the zeitgeist of a particular era.
Singing a new song: a personal take on covers
Do cover songs pay proper respect to, or debase and sully, the original work? Do they add to, improve upon, or advance it in any way?
Let’s talk turkey: More odd word and phrase origins
I’ve been wanting to “talk turkey” for some time now. It started when my significant other bowled three turkeys in a row. Where did that expression come from?
Political rhetoric: double-talk, gobbledygook, gibberish and jabberwocky?
I’m gobsmacked and flabbergasted at Donald Trump’s incessant gibberish—is this political rhetoric or jabberwocky? While the following promises not to decipher Trump’s or his advisors’ double-talk, it does uncover the origins of all of this gobbledygook. Being a Canadian who doesn’t understand fully the American political system, I don’t usually follow the goings on orContinue reading “Political rhetoric: double-talk, gobbledygook, gibberish and jabberwocky?”
A calculated answer: The shared etymology of calculate, calcium and calculus
What do calculate, calcium, pebbles and abacuses (or abaci, if you prefer) all have in common?
Nauseous misuses of English sure to make you sick
Nauseous, thought to have entered English as early as the 1600s, meant “inclined to nausea, easily made queasy”. Today, it is an adjective describing something that causes nausea. The adjective denoting the feeling “made sick” is nauseated.
Etymology of ‘geek’ and ‘nerd’ not so square after all
Oh, how often those ridiculed as puny, studious or unfashionable bear the brunt of such names as dweeb, geek and nerd. But has anyone ever wondered about the origins of these words or even contemplated that, originally, geek actually meant the opposite of what it means today?