I’ve just twigged …

In a recent letter in The Times (of London), a reader described his experience of driving his old Renault 4 through France: “On the road, the beeping by other drivers made me nervous — until I twigged the car was being saluted.” Does the word “twigged” make any sense to you in that context? If you’re a Brit, it probably does. But I’m sure most Americans won’t twig … Continue reading

Aussie dimmos


Dripos, in Aussie speak

English is littered with diminutives — commonly abbreviated words — in standard usage. Phone, bike, fridge, gym, typo, photo: they’re all diminutives* in that sense. Sometimes we add a suffix after butchering a word to give it an even more informal feel: think comfy (comfortable), cardie (cardigan), telly (television), and even brolly (umbrella). OK, admittedly those are all British colloquialisms: we Brits [see?] are more prone than our neighbors across the pond to add weeny appendages back in once we’ve sliced off the fatty syllables. (And see Glosso’s earlier post: “I’ll take that with a side of small words.“) But wait: there’s a country that’s even more inclined to hypocorism (yes, that’s what it’s called) than English-speakers on either side of the Atlantic. G’day Aussies! Continue reading

Answer to yesterday’s Glosso quiz: what do these authors have in common?

Lewis Carroll / Wikimedia Commons

Here’s a rare Glossophilia quiz for you.

What do these seven authors have in common? If you know, or want to take a guess, please mark in the comments section below. The answer will be posted tomorrow.

Hans Christian Andersen
James Baldwin
Bill Bryson
Lewis Carroll
Franz Kafka
Mark Twain
H.G. Wells

Good luck!

The answer is that they were all left-handed. Yesterday was International Left-Handed Day.


Online dating slang: a glossary

Santeri Viinamäki / Wikimedia Commons

If you’re looking for Cupid’s help online — as most love-seeking singles are inclined to do these days — then you’ve probably encountered some of these common 21st-century dating behaviors up close and personal. Their names are almost as ridiculous as the activities they describe — especially since most of them are gerunds formed from nouns-or-even-proper-names-masquerading-as-verbs. Sigh. Continue reading

Bigly – update

“And they’re taking it over bigly.” … “Obamacare kicks in in 2016, really bigly.” … “Mexico is ripping off the United States bigly and we have to do something about it.” Donald Trump likes that word bigly, but is it legit?

Update 9 August 2018: Apparently it was indeed a word back in the late 19th century, as used by a literary great of the time (as illustrated above). It fairly pains me to mention these two men in the same breath. Please note in a comment below if you can guess who that author is … Continue reading

A right royal typo

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

It wasn’t widely reported, but The Queen recently made a boo-boo in this year’s official Ascot program(me). “International competition is a compelling feature in the modem era,” she wrote in her foreword. Maybe Buck P hasn’t yet discovered wifi. Or, more likely, one of her young scribes hasn’t yet mastered the art of cursive writing…

The Times picked up the story in its Royal Ascot Diary.