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.
Tag Archives: etymology
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?
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?
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?
A sovereign answer to a puzzling question
Why does sovereign have a g, when it is supposedly derived from the Old French soverain, which, etymologically, has nothing to do with a reign?
Fill the bill: Avoid folk etymology and the rest will follow
Expressions fascinate me. There must surely be cultural influences that shape the development, as well as the nuances of, language. I’m always happy when I uncover the origins of yet another idiom, and I’m always dismayed when I see someone misusing and/or misspelling that same idiom.
Pronunciation: A salute to popcorn?
Why is colonel pronounced kernel? What many people don’t realize is that colonel comes from early French.
Toe the line: Spelling expressions correctly will help your writing pass muster
My interest in the social, religious, economic and other factors shaping etymology and the development of language is more than a fascination and correct word usage more than an obsession. That’s why I really get my knickers in a twist when I see people misuse and misspell common expressions.
Pronunciation: Left of centre or down the loo?
Why do we in Canada say LEF-tenant, when there is no actual f in the word itself. Borderline obsessive in my fascination with etymology, I immediately rushed to the Oxford English Dictionary to find the answer.