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Word origins

Nudiustertian: The Day Before Yesterday

Many languages have specific words for “the day before yesterday”. The Portuguese call it anteontem, in Spanish, it’s anteayer, in German, vorgestern.  The English language however, is...

Name Origins: Gump

The word Gump meaning a fool, a stupid person was recorded in poet, critic, and editor James Russell Lowell’s “The Biglow Papers” (1866), and accounts for...

Word Origins: Ignoramus

Up until the early 1600s, the word ignoramus literally referred to the plural form of the Latin ignoro, meaning “I don’t know”.  Ignoramus (“we...

Word Origins: Orange

The word orange is both a noun and an adjective in the English language and refers primarily to the orange fruit and the colour orange, but...

Word Origins: Abracadabra

Now used in invocations by magicians and conjurers, the term “Abracadabra” was first mentioned in the writings of the Gnostic physician Quintus Serenus Scammonicus in the...

Word Origins: Good-Bye

The word “Good-bye” is actually derived from the words God be with you.  Its first recorded use is in a 1573 letter.  Earlier forms of...

Word Origins: Sniper

The term sniper was first used in 1824 in the sense of the word “sharpshooter”. The verb “to snipe” originated in the 1770s among...

Word Origins: Whisky

The word whiskey or whisky is the English equivalent of the Goidelic name (Irish: uisce beatha and Scottish Gaelic: uisge beatha) literally meaning “water of life”. Earlier anglicizations include usquebaugh, usquebea (1706)...