Category Archives: Words, phrases & expressions

Love, deuce and all that jazz

djokovic-murray

Glossophilia is posting this one again — as Wimbledon fortnight gets underway. Djokovic and Murray aren’t meeting tomorrow, but they’re both still in the game (just!). Familiar faces, but new balls …

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They’re meeting tomorrow in what promises to be a nail-biting Wimbledon final (nail-biting at least for the great British public). But how much love will there be on Centre Court between these two formidable sportsmen, Novac Djokovic and Andy Murray? On the scoreboard, there might be a fair amount during the course of the match; perhaps not so much on the court itself. Why is love the name given to the score for zero in tennis? And what the deuce is the story behind the score for 40-all? Continue reading

“Wax and gold” in goldsmithery and Amharigna

“The Baqdadi Goldsmith” by Kamal-ol-molk / Wikimedia Commons

I’m reading a guidebook about Ethiopia (preparing for a trip there later in the year), and I’ve just stumbled on this really interesting piece by John Grinling called “Wax and gold in goldsmithery and Amharigna.” It’s a good read for anyone interested in words and language, and perhaps helps explain why I love Ethiopian culture. Continue reading

Acceptation: so modern and meta

Admit it: if you read the word acceptation in a newspaper or blog, you would probably pause. You might think: What publication am I reading? Is it legit, or have I gone too far down the rabbit-hole again? Is there any sign of an editor around here? Perhaps English isn’t the author’s first language? And you might even reach for a dictionary. It’s surely a mistake, you’re thinking. They must mean acceptanceContinue reading

Labor Day: the meaning of labor (or labour)

 

labor

Labor Day Parade, Union Square, New York, 1882

Update: It’s May 6, 2019, and there’s breaking news: the Duchess of Sussex is in labour. Want to find out more about the history of the word labour (or, as we Americans spell it, labor)? Read this post from a few years ago … Continue reading

Not my pigeon …

My English friend Fleur recently told me in an email that she wasn’t going to an event because “it really isn’t my pigeon.” I’ve never heard this little avian saying before, and since Glosso has recently posted a piece about expressions using animal (ahem) parts, I was immediately intrigued … Continue reading

Dog’s bollocks

You learn something new every day. Today I learned something about one of my favorite phrases. Do you know what “dog’s bollocks” meant originally? (I bet you don’t.) Here’s a clue: it represented what the dog is apparently doing in the picture above. And, perhaps more importantly, do you know what the phrase means today? Continue reading

In the news (April 11): a typeface makeover, a capital city name-change, a multilingual pop artist & more

In recent language news: a trilingual pop artist, singing trilingually; a dating trend gets a trendy name; a capital city changes its name; a typeface makeover; and more … Continue reading

Billions and billions

If you’re a Billions fan, you’ll be familiar with Bobby Axelrod, the ambitious American billionaire manager of a hedge fund called Axe Capital. You might also know that Bobby is played by the British actor Damian Lewis. If you had the choice, would you rather be a British billionaire or an American one? (That’s setting aside the difference in currency values, and how you might choose to spend your loot on either side of the Atlantic.) If you know your billions, you might well choose one over the other, and here’s why.  Continue reading