Etymologists often deal with a group of words that seem to be related, and yet the nature of the relationship is hard or impossible to demonstrate. Such groups are particularly instructive to investigate. I have long been interested in a possible connection between “limp” (adjective), “limp” (verb), and “lump.”
Right-wing and reactionary forces in the USA and UK are once again stoking panic about trans people and practices of gender and sexual variation. Their arguments, though, rely upon faulty assumptions about gender, particularly in relation to history and religion.
Serial killers—people who repeatedly murder others—provoke revulsion but also a certain amount of fascination in the general public. But what can modern psychology and neuroscience tell us about what might be going on inside the head of such individuals?
Queen Elizabeth II and the royal family have featured prominently in the British state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The expectation that the monarch should articulate a spiritual response to the threat of disease has deep roots. It took its modern form with Queen Victoria, whose reign decisively transformed the relationship between religion, the sovereign, sickness, and health.
It is no secret that movies about Hollywood come with built-in Oscar buzz. Hollywood loves movies about Hollywood, the saying goes.
A claim of “This is mine!” is not the end of property. If it were, then property would be as purely subjective as “I want this” is. Rather, property requires that people other than me also know the circumstances of when my claim of “Mine!” is indeed true.
In this blog post, the Oxford Etymologist responds to readers’ queries, discussing “evil”, “wicked”, “sward”, “hunt”, “thraúō”, “trash”, and “tomorrow”.
This past month marked an anniversary like no other. On 11 March 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic and with it, normal life of eating out, commuting to work, and seeing grandparents came to a sudden halt. One year later, my new book about the intersection of psychology and the workplace was published. With wide-scale vaccinations on the rise, I thought it would be a good time to take stock of where we are and just how much has changed.
November 2018 saw the release of the first ever professional recording of Arthur Sullivan’s oratorio, The Light of The World, based on Biblical texts and focused on the life and teaching of Jesus. The critical reaction to this work, which had been largely ignored and rarely performed for over 140 years, was extraordinary.
One hundred and sixty years ago, on 12 April, the Confederacy attacked Fort Sumter, a Union fort in Charleston harbour. The first shots of the Civil War had been fired. British attitudes to that war baffled both participants at the time, and perhaps still do.
Can humor have a temperature? Do some like their comedy hot or cold? A quick survey of movies from Norway and Brazil invites us to consider how climate and geography can affect a people’s sense of humor.
As Artificial Intelligence technologies enter into more and more facets of our everyday life, we are growing accustomed to the idea of machines talking directly to us.
Theodore Roosevelt is everywhere. Most famously, his stone face stares out from South Dakota’s Mount Rushmore. One of the most important but least recognized aspects of Roosevelt’s life are his ecumenical convictions and his promotion of marginalized religious groups. Through Roosevelt’s influence, Jews, Mormons, Catholics, and Unitarians moved a little closer toward the American religious mainstream.
In the series on “trash” and its synonyms, I called attention to Spitzer’s hypothesis on the origin of English “rubbish” and now I have unearthed Verdam’s idea that Dutch “karwei” may have something in common with English “garbage.” Resuscitating valuable ideas buried in the depths of old journals is an important part of etymologists’ work. Convincing refutation is as valuable as agreement.
Beer is one of the world’s oldest produced alcoholic beverages and since its invention some 13,000 years ago, people across the globe have been brewing, consuming, and even worshiping this amber nectar. Whether you prefer a pale ale, wheat beer, stout, or lager, from the cask or a humble bottle, beer enthusiasts can agree that the topic of beer is as complex as its taste.
The reciprocal relationship between humanity and nature may define the future of our life on this planet, but it is also an inescapable force in our history. To discover how the natural world has impacted the course of history, explore these seven new titles on environmental history.