In my correspondence with the journalist who was curious about the origin of caucus, I wrote that we might never discover where that word came from.
If you look up the synonym of big, you are likely to find words like large, huge, immense, colossal, enormous, and ginormous, among others. Some of these will cause you to raise an eyebrow because they are bigger than big: something can be big, but not huge or enormous.
Last week, I mentioned three etymologies of caucus: from caucus, Latin for “cup”; from an Algonquin phrase, and from calker’s or caulkers’.
At the moment, the word caucus is in everybody’s mouth. This too shall pass, but for now, the same question is being asked again and again, namely: “What is the origin of the mysterious American coinage?”
World Englishes are localized or indigenized varieties of English spoken throughout the world by people of diverse cultural backgrounds in a wide range of sociolinguistic contexts.
In the previous post, I answered the first question from our correspondents (idioms with the names of body parts in them) and promised to answer the other one I had received during the break. The second question concerned the book titled The Etymologicon: A Circular Stroll through the Hidden Connections.
While the blog was dormant, two questions came my way, and I decided to answer them at once, rather than putting them on a back burner. Today, I’ll deal with the first question and leave the second for next week. Since the publication of my recent book Take My Word for It (it deals with […]
January gets its name from Janus, the Roman god of doors and gates, and (more metaphorically) the god of transitions and transformations. What better time to talk about so-called Janus words.
The story of rhyme has been told more than once, but though both The OED and The Century Dictionary offer a detailed account of how the word acquired its meaning and form, it may be instructive to follow the discussion that occupied the intellectuals about a hundred and fifty years ago and some time later.
Publication in peer-reviewed journals is an integral part of academic life, but however successful you are in your research career, you’re likely to receive a lot more rejections than acceptances of your submitted manuscript. Here are 7 suggestions on how to cope, understand, and learn from manuscript rejection.
Noah Webster (1758-1843) knew spree and included it in the first edition of his dictionary. He defined spree as “low frolic” and branded it as vulgar.
The Oxford Etymologist shares his monthly gleanings on cob, shark, cowan, and more.
In January 2024, the Linguistic Society of America celebrates its 100th anniversary. And one thing you can be sure of is that “Happy Birthday” will be sung.
Real time of space-time is one of the dimensions on which we comprehend and describe reality. Time neither flows, nor flies, or drags on; it doesn’t run out and is not a commodity that can be wasted.
The Oxford Etymologist shares a new explanation for “highfalutin” from a reader of the blog, which, if accepted, “will be a small step forward in the study of word origins.”
“To me, the history of etymologists’ wanderings reads like a thriller: so many naive and clever suggestions, such a blend of ignorance and ingenuity!” The Oxford Etymologist traverses the history of “broke.”