Category Archives: Language

Origin of the Word Lukewarm


Today I found out the origin of the word “lukewarm”. You’ve probably wondered why we have the word “lukewarm” for describing something that is only slightly warm.  Why not “stevewarm” or “beckywarm”?  Well if you didn’t before, hopefully you’re wondering now. It turns out, while today using “luke” to mean “warm” has gone out of fashion, possibly due to the […]

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What “Mrs.” is Short For

Gloria Steinem who, in the 1970s, helped popularize "Ms." as a marital-neutral abbreviation for women.

Today I found out what “Mrs.” is short for. You may have wondered, if you’ve ever thought about it, why there is an “r” in “Mrs.” when it’s generally spoken as “missus” (also sometimes spelled “missis”).  “Mrs.” first popped up as an abbreviation for “mistress” in the late 16th century.  At the time, “mistress” didn’t popularly have the negative connotation […]

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“Avocado” Derives from a Word Meaning “Testicle”


Today I found out that “Avocado” derives from a word meaning “testicle”. The word Avocado comes from a Nahuatl Indian (Aztec) word “ahuácatl” meaning testicle. It is thought that the reference is either due to the avocado’s shape or the fact that it was considered to possess aphrodisiac qualities by the Aztecs. In Spanish, “ahuácatl” became “aguacate” and eventually “avogato” […]

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How Dick Came to be Short for Richard


Today I found out why Dick is short for Richard. The name Richard is thought by most etymologists to derive from the Proto-Germanic ‘Rikharthu’, meaning more or less “hard ruler” (‘Rik-‘ meaning ‘ruler’ and ‘-harthu’ meaning ‘hard’).  This was adopted into Old High German as ‘Ricohard’, and from there to Old French, then Old English as ‘Richeard’, and today as […]

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The Word “Droid” is a Registered Trademark of Lucasfilm Ltd.


Today I found out the word “droid” is a registered trademark of Lucasfilm Ltd. Shortly before Verizon launched their “DROID” line of mobile devices, Lucasfilm Ltd. swept in and filed a trademark on October 9, 2009 for the term “Droid”.  Specifically claiming the term for: Wireless communications devices, including, mobile phones, cell phones, hand held devices and personal digital assistants, […]

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Split Infinitives are Not Incorrect Grammatically


Today I found out split infinitives are not incorrect grammatically. As mentioned in the recent Star Trek “to boldy go” article (check that out here), the majority of modern English grammar guides list split infinitives as being perfectly acceptable.  This has also been the case, not just in modern usage, but throughout most of the history of the English language […]

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The Word “News” Does Not Derive from the Four Cardinal Directions (North, East, West, South)


Myth: the word “news” derives from the four cardinal directions. While this potential origin of the word news seems plausible enough, it isn’t true.  The truth is, the word news can be traced back to late Middle English around the 14th century as a plural for the adjective “new” or “new thing”.  This is a somewhat rare instance of an […]

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