Author Archives: Louise

How do you pronounce Purcell?


Henry Purcell, who died 320 years ago today, was one of England’s greatest composers; most people agree on that fact. But how do you pronounce his name? There’s less consensus about that, and it continues to be discussed and debated more than three centuries after the master musician took his last breath. Should it sound like Persil, the detergent, or rhyme with Purell, the hand sanitizer? Continue reading

“Grammar slammers: Dems crush GOP”

Chafee       Trump

Yes, that’s a real headline: it appeared in USA Today last month. Glosso is a little behind the curve here, having missed this important political news when it first broke at the beginning of October — but hey: it’s never too late to help educate the electorate, especially in the all-important matter of grammatical competence. If you’re still on the fence about which party or presidential candidate you’re going to support over the coming 12 months (but do hurry up, because you’ve only got a year left to decide), and grammar happens to be an important voting issue for you, we have some useful inside info, courtesy Grammarly. Here’s the scoop. Continue reading

Isis: from goddess to terrorist state. What’s in a name? Update: from Isis to Daesh?

ISIS1                   Isis2


Isis: she is the epitome of femininity, an Egyptian goddess worshipped as a mother and wife, a patroness of nature and magic. A friend of slaves, sinners, artisans and the downtrodden, she’s a protector of the dead and a goddess of children and motherhood. Her name, meaning “woman of the throne”, is bestowed on thousands of girls taking their first breaths around the world; last year it was ranked as the 575th most popular girl’s name in the US. But now the gentle moniker of the fairer sex — in the form of a screaming acronym — has been hijacked by the world’s newest and most frightening embodiment of organized terror: the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (commonly referred to as ISIS). Will Isis ever be able to throw off this new shroud of terror and regain its womanly strengths? [And see update re. the name “Daesh” below.] Continue reading

What’s “wackaging”?



As defined by The Independent a couple of years ago, wackaging is “a cute sense of irritation: … It’s when food packaging treats consumers like idiots or children.”  Blame Innocent, the Cambridge (UK)-based soft drinks company, which started the trend back in 1999 with its talking smoothies. Continue reading

Bad words masquerading as good ones (and terribly good intensifiers)

image     jacksonbad

In a recent article about Justin Bieber’s new single and its producers, Skrillex and Blood, Inquisitr reported: “As it turned out, Blood (Mike Tucker) and Skrillex (Sonny Moore) collaborated for the first time on Justin’s new album, Purpose. “That’s sick,” says the Biebs, after this revelation.” [sic] Continue reading

Top new words of 2015 (according to Collins)

An example of "manspreading"; Richard Yeh / WNYC

An example of “manspreading”; Richard Yeh / WNYC

Manspreading … binge-watching … dadbod: these are words you might have heard in the past year or so. And even if you’ve never used them yourself or seen them written down formally, you’re probably aware of their existence — and can guess fairly easily what they mean. On Thursday, Collins English Dictionary revealed its 10 top new words of 2015: those quirky portmanteaus and neologisms that have wormed their way into our daily lingo and might soon be immortalized in the dictionaries of our future. Continue reading

Bodily expressions finale: Bodies and skeletons

One of William Blake's watercolour illustrations for Robert Blair's poem "The Grave", 1805

One of William Blake’s watercolour illustrations for Robert Blair’s poem “The Grave”, 1805

Fittingly, on this ghoulish day, Glosso comes to the end of its series of bodily expressions (see links to the previous posts below). In our grand Hallowe’en finale, we’ve gathered those instances where skeletons and bodies (dead or alive) take their place in the expressions of our daily lingo.

And in the round-up of posts below, we tally the number of expressions we’ve gathered for each of our body parts. You might be surprised to see which one of them takes the biscuit …

BOO! Continue reading

Bodily expressions IX: Blood, sweat & tears, skin & bones, nerves & sinews

The Price of Victory. Blood, Sweat, Tears. Sweat---Our Contribution (Wikimedia Commons)

The Price of Victory. Blood, Sweat, Tears. Sweat—Our Contribution (Wikimedia Commons)

Continuing Glossophilia’s 10-part series on bodily expressions.

We’ve gathered all the phrases and expressions we can possibly think of that make use of bodily parts in all their glory — and divided them into ten broad categories* descending from head to toe (and then some …). We’ve left out one- and two-word euphemistic adjectives and tried to avoid expressions that refer too literally to our actual limbs, organs or orifices; what follows are phrases that tend towards the metaphorical and poetic, even though some can also be taken more literally.

Here we have phrases using blood, sweat and tears, skin and bone, nerves, veins and sinews — the more visceral matter and machinery of our very beings. Up next, our grand Hallowe’en finale: where skeletons and bodies (dead or alive) take their place in our daily idioms… Continue reading