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.
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?”
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 […]
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.
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.
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.”
The Oxford Etymologist details the origin and development of the adjective “clever”.
It is amazing how many synonyms for “fool” exist! It is almost funny that fool, the main English word for “a stupid person,” is not native, says the Oxford Etymologist in this week’s exploration of the origins of fools.
Some words are so rare that few people know and even fewer study them. Such is “brocard”, the “outcast” subject of today’s blog post from the Oxford Etymologist.
The Oxford Etymologist casts a glance at a book exploring the history of language and its development that is “definitely worth reading.”
Some words don’t interest anyone. They languish in their obscurity, and even lexicographers miss or ignore them. Yet they too deserve to get their day in court. One such word is “cowan.”
The Oxford Etymologist explores squash, squeeze, and the development of squ- words featuring the infamous s-mobile.