Tag Archives: Language facts

“Ye” in Names Like “Ye Olde Coffee Shoppe” Should Be Pronounced “The”, Not “Yee”

Today I found out the “ye” as in “Ye Olde Coffee Shoppe” should be pronounced “the”. The “Ye” here is not the “ye” as in “Judge not, that ye (you) be not judged”, but is rather a remnant of the letter “thorn” or “þorn” (Þ, þ).  The letter thorn was used in Old Norse, Old English-Middle English, Gothic, and Icelandic […]

Read more

Origin of the Phrase “Blonde Bombshell”

Today I found out the origin of the phrase “blonde bombshell”. “Blonde bombshell” is often used to describe an exciting, dynamic, sexy woman with blonde hair, particularly blonde celebrity sex symbols.  The expression seems to have come from, or at least was popularized by, a movie and originally referred to a specific blonde bombshell. In 1933, the platinum blonde Jean […]

Read more

What is the Origin of the Word “Tip”, as in Leaving a Tip

Frank Hintz: What is the origin of the word “tip” (as in leaving a tip)? You may have heard that the few hundred year old definition of “tip”, as referring to gratuity, comes from “To Insure Promptness” or similar backronyms, but this isn’t correct. In fact, pretty much anytime you’ve ever heard of a word that originated before the 20th […]

Read more

Why Do They Call Grandfather Clocks by That Name?

J.Kaus asks: Why are Grandfather clocks called Grandfather clocks? At first glance, the answer seems obvious. Think about it- when was the last time you saw a grandfather clock in the house of anyone under the age of 70? Grandfather clocks- with their long cases, pendulums, echoing chimes, and Roman numerals- seem to belong to the world of courting parlors, […]

Read more

A Man Once Tried to Raise His Son as a Native Speaker in Klingon

Today I found out a man once tried to raise his son as a native speaker in Klingon. The man in question is computational linguist Dr. d’Armond Speers.  Speers is actually not a huge Start Trek fan himself. Indeed, many Klingon language enthusiasts aren’t, contrary to popular perception.  They tend to be language lovers fascinated by constructed languages, of which […]

Read more

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 […]

Read more

The Difference Between Farther and Further

Now You Know

You should know the difference between “farther” and “further”. Many people use “further” and “farther” interchangeable, but, in fact, they mean slightly different things.  “Farther” refers to a physical distance, while “further” refers to a figurative distance.  So, when wondering how many more miles or kilometers to a particular destination, you’d say, “How much farther to the gas station?”  On […]

Read more

Where the Word “Latrine” Comes From

The term “latrine” comes from the Latin “lavare”, which means “to wash”.  The earliest references to this word being used in English goes all the way back to the mid-17th century. As an aside, the term “toilet” comes from the French “toilette”, meaning “dressing room”.  “Toilette” in turn derives from the French “toile”, meaning “cloth”.  During the 17th century, the […]

Read more

Words that Change Their Meaning Depending on Whether the First Letter is Capitalized are “Capitonyms”

There are some words that change their meaning based on whether the first letter is capitalized or not.  These words are collectively known as “capitonyms”.  These capitonyms are particularly troublesome when they appear at the beginning of a sentence, as there is no way, based on the single word alone, to tell which meaning is being referred to.  Examples of […]

Read more
1 2 3