mcgillianaire: (South Park Me)
If you wondered what happened, I got busy working the end of last year, and mixed with a convenient dose of laziness once I flew to Oman, failed to post the list for these two months. I've also decided to lump January's with February, so expect them early March.

01. Vitreous toilet
02. Be quids in
03. Ringpiece
04. Trumping
05. Neophyte
06. Cinque ports
07. Fanuary
08. Counting sheep
09. Shop-soiled
10. Breach of promise
11. Twat tax
12. Prevaricator
13. Autre temps, autre moeurs
14. Tikkun olam
15. Putting on the Ritz
16. Freemium
17. Verisimilitude
18. In clover
19. Docker's thumbs
20. Silly season
21. NEET
22. Laga kitnabhi payega dhokha
23. Busman's holiday
24. (Old) crumblies
25. Last Train to Clarksville
26. Prolixity
27. What the Dickens?
28. Rooting
29. Glenda Slagg
30. Aperçus
31. Bromide
32. Wednesday witches
33. Jugaad
34. Tendentious
35. Digital inheritance
36. Ostler
37. Athenaeum
38. Lazyweb
39. Po-faced
40. Pen pusher

Only the last three words are from December. As usual there's a handful of non-English entrants: including French (13) & (30), Hebrew (14), Hindi (22) & (33) & Latin (37), but not (6) which hails from Norman French and is actually pronounced "Sink ports".

[Poll #1817758]
mcgillianaire: (BBC Logo)
Regular readers will know of my love for etymology. Now my favourite radio station has chosen a recently published book that describes itself as A Circular Stroll through the Hidden Connections of the English Language, as its Book of the Week. Starting today, extracts will be read from an abridged version till Friday by one of my favourite comedians, Hugh Dennis. Pure heaven!

The Etymologicon: A Circular Stroll through the Hidden Connections of the English Language [Amazon UK]
Inky Fool Blog
mcgillianaire: (Royal Coat of Arms)
So following on from my previous post, I don't think there's much doubt that the sexiest accents in the British Isles, particularly when piped from someone of the fairer sex, are Welsh and Scottish, followed closely by Irish and anything else Northern. No offence, Brummie, West Country and London, but your accents do not stimulate the senses. Especially Brummie. I've never heard anything more depressing. Even when someone's chipper, it sounds like their whinging. Of course, it's a personal preference. Nothing does it more for me than a pretty lady with a Glaswegian or broad Welsh accent. Or man, if I'm brutally honest. There's just something about the broad Welsh lilt that makes my nerves tingle. Even just thinking about it... *mmm*
mcgillianaire: (Royal Coat of Arms)
One of the most fascinating aspects of the British Isles, is the variety of accents in such a small geographic area. It has been one of my informal missions to identify as many of them as possible simply from hearing a few words from a new speaker. After more than four years I can confidently pick out the following accents: Scottish, Irish, Geordie, Yorkshire, Lancashire, Scouse, Welsh, Brummie, Multicultural London, Cockney, Estuary, RP and West Country. Within those I can pinpoint Glaswegian, Lancashire accents from the Bolton area and on a lucky day, Northern Irish. But I've a long way to go because I sometimes find it difficult to distinguish Cumbrian (I often find it to be a mix of Geordie/Lancashire/Scottish, particularly depending on where the speaker's from/used to live), East Anglian, Mancunian and West Midlands. I've also spoken to very few people from Lincolnshire so I have little idea what they sound like. More Northern than Southern, I'm sure. In any case, I've got a good platform to work from. In the next four years I want to fine-tune these skills and hone down on actual places where people come from. That would be pretty nifty. So far I can only do that with cities like London, Liverpool, Newcastle and Birmingham.


Nov. 30th, 2011 09:00 pm
mcgillianaire: (Hooka Pipe)
Precious stone, 1560s, replacement from Middle French of Middle English turkeis, turtogis (late 14c.), from Old French turqueise, feminine adjective "Turkish," in pierre turqueise "Turkish stone," so called because it was first brought to Europe from Turkestan or some other Turkish dominion (Sinai peninsula, according to one theory). Cognate with Spanish turquesa, Middle Latin (lapis) turchesius, Middle Dutch turcoys, German türkis, Swedish turkos. As a color name, attested from 1853.

Source: Online Etymology Dictionary
mcgillianaire: (Lock Stock Still-frame)
01. Belfry
02. Aussie kiss
03. High jinks
04. Hard A
05. Tousled
06. Ham-fisted
07. Two bob
08. Martyr for/to drink
09. Kepi
10. Vituperative
11. (Infantile) Canard
12. Panjandrum
13. Tie-in
14. Bubba
15. Bagatelle
16. Silver bullet
17. Mivvi
18. Pendejo
19. In flagrante
20. Perfidious Albion
21. Munter
22. On the razzle
23. Put that in your pipe and smoke it
24. Its all gravy
25. Salutary
26. Coquettish
27. Bob-a-job
28. Slow Burner
29. Spotted dick
30. Leitmotif
31. Consequences

There's five fewer words than September and that's probably due to being at work for a couple weeks. In this edition there's two borrowed terms from French (9) & (15), a Spanish word (18), an Italian phrase (19) and an old parlour game (31).

[Poll #1796107]


Oct. 10th, 2011 04:15 pm
mcgillianaire: (Default)
1650s, from French régaler "to entertain or feast," from Old French rigale, from gale "merriment," from galer "make merry" (see gallant). Influenced in Old French by se rigoler "amuse oneself, rejoice," of unknown origin. Italian regalo is from French.

Source: Online Etymology Dictionary
mcgillianaire: (South Park Me)

This is one of those phrases that we may have picked up early in our learning of the language and probably worked out its meaning from the context we heard it in, without any clear understanding of what each word meant. Most native English speakers could say what it means but, if we look at it out of context, it doesn't appear to make a great deal of sense. That lack of understanding of the words in the phrase is undoubtedly the reason that this is often misspelled, for example, 'at one fail swoop', or even, with some more justification as it might be thought to relate to birds, 'one fowl swoop'. It isn't difficult to find examples of 'one foul swoop'. 'Stoop' is sometimes substitued for 'swoop' in all of the above variants, again drawing on avian imagery.

So, what's that 'fell'? We use the word in a variety of ways: to chop, as in fell a tree; a moorland or mountain, like those in the northern UK; the past tense of fall, as 'he fell over'. None of those seems to make sense in this phrase and indeed the 'fell' here is none of those. It's an old word, in use by the 13th century, that's now fallen out of use apart from in this phrase and as the common root of the term 'felon'. The Oxford English Dictionary defines fell as meaning 'fierce, savage; cruel, ruthless; dreadful, terrible', which is pretty unambiguous.

Shakespeare either coined the phrase, or gave it circulation, in Macbeth, 1605:

MACDUFF: [on hearing that his family and servants have all been killed]

All my pretty ones?
Did you say all? O hell-kite! All?
What, all my pretty chickens and their dam
At one fell swoop?

The kite referred to is a hunting bird, like the Red Kite, which was common in England in Tudor times and is now making a welcome return after near extinction in the 20th century. The swoop (or stoop as is now said) is the rapid descent made by the bird when capturing prey.

Shakespeare used the imagery of a hunting bird's 'fell swoop' to indicate the ruthless and deadly attack by Macbeth's agents.

In the intervening years we have rather lost the original meaning and use it now to convey suddenness rather than savagery.

Source: The Phrase Finder


Oct. 6th, 2011 02:25 pm
mcgillianaire: (Royal Coat of Arms)
Late 14th-century, Scottish variant of Old English stælwierðe "good, serviceable," probably a contracted compound of staðol "foundation, support" (from Proto-Germanic *stathlaz) + wierðe "good, excellent, worthy" (see worth). Another theory traces the first element of stælwierðe to Old English stæl "place," from Proto-Germanic *stælaz. In U.S. political history, applied 1877 by Blaine to Republicans who refused to give up their hostility to and distrust of the South.
mcgillianaire: (South Park Me)
01. Gooser
02. Elide
03. Be jolly hockey sticks
04. Screed (publication)
05. Blithe
06. Juju
07. Clammy
08. Catch yourself on
09. Having a mare
10. Waspish
11. Roil
12. Patsies
13. Solipsism
14. Mirthful
15. Al Sha’ab yureed eskaat al nazam
16. Flo Pass
17. All people that on earth do dwell
18. Dilettantes
19. West-Brit
20. Gorked
21. Rort
22. Snuff film
23. Spacker
24. Road to Damascus
25. Dog-eat-dog world
26. Troga
27. Mob Wife
28. Index offence
29. Faint heart never won fair lady
30. Hold the torch
31. Farthingale
32. Ho-de-ho
33. Moaning Minnie
34. Trustafarian
35. Soigné habitué
36. Segueing

One word more than last month but there now seems to be a degree of consistency developing in the number of words and phrases for each month. Arabic (15) becomes the fifth language to make an appearance in these posts, while there are no surprises with the inclusion of at least one (or maybe two) French words (6) & (35). I say maybe because according to Wikipedia, (6) is either of West African or French origin. Irish English makes an entry with two phrases (8) & (19), while we have another visitor from Down Under (21) courtesy [ profile] pappubahry. Not to be left behind, pop culture in the form of US TV comedy programme, Modern Family has donated two words/phrases in (26) & (27), while football (the sport) chips in with (16).

[Poll #1783828]


Sep. 24th, 2011 12:30 pm
mcgillianaire: (Default)
1530s, "moderator, umpire," from stickle "mediate" (1520s), probably a frequentative of Middle English stihen "to arrange, place," from Old English stihan "to arrange order," which is cognate with Middle Dutch stichten, German stiften "to found, establish," probably from Proto-Germanic *stihtan "to place on a step or base," from Proto-Indo-European base *steigh- "to stride, step, rise" (see stair). Meaning "person who contends or insists stubbornly" is first recorded 1640s.


Sep. 24th, 2011 09:30 am
mcgillianaire: (Default)
1630s, from French talisman, in part via Arabic tilsam (pl. tilsaman), a Greek loan-word; in part directly from Byzantine Greek telesma "talisman, religious rite, payment," earlier "consecration, ceremony," originally "completion," from telein "perform (religious rites), pay (tax), fulfill," from telos "completion, end, tax" (see tele-).
mcgillianaire: (Changing Guard London)

The phrase, and its variant 'nice try, but no cigar', are of US origin and date from the mid-20th century. Fairground stalls gave out cigars as prizes, and this is the most likely source, although there's no definitive evidence to prove that.

It is first recorded in print in Sayre and Twist's publishing of the script of the 1935 film version of Annie Oakley:
    "Close, Colonel, but no cigar!"
It appears in U. S. newspapers widely from around 1949 onwards. For example, a story from The Lima News, Lima, Ohio, November 1949, where The Lima House Cigar and Sporting Goods Store narrowly avoided being burned down in a fire, was titled 'Close But No Cigar'.

Source: The Phrase Finder
mcgillianaire: (Football player)
I became aware of this a few years ago but most people still think it is. I was reminded of it while watching the latest edition of the newly-instituted, web-only Match of the Day 3 programme on Monday mornings, which featured as its guest the British-based American goalkeeper, Brad Friedel. Neither he nor Lee Dixon (a regular analyst and former England international) were aware of soccer's true origins. Therefore I reckon it's important to spread the word across the length and breadth of this country and beyond. Many Britons (and I've noticed it's not just those who follow the sport!) are quick to dismiss any use of the term soccer as an Americanism, as though it were a dirty word. But as Wikipedia amply demonstrates, this misnomer couldn't be further from the truth. Soccer is well and truly British. In fact it was widely used by the mainstream media until at least the 1970s, but quite what happened after that is somewhat of a mystery. Although interestingly enough, according to the Hansard archives, the use of the term soccer by MPs has increased in recent decades (even as football remains the most popular term in Parliament, the media and certainly amongst the hoi polloi)!

EDIT: It's worth pointing out that according to Hansard, the earliest mention of football in Parliament was in 1824, while the earliest mention of soccer (and rugger) was in 1927.

(Note: Even if you don't like MotD or football in general, that programme is worth watching alone for what is possibly the "best" own goal ever scored... by who else but Lee Dixon himself!)
mcgillianaire: (Default)
01. Jaan
02. Baraat
03. There are no atheists in foxholes
04. Dressed to the nines
05. Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed
06. Trompe-l'œil
07. Toe rag
08. Doubting Thomas
09. Bon viveur
10. Whisky dick
11. Escutcheons
12. Bier
13. Radge
14. Blues and twos
15. Pearly whites
16. Dotty
17. Dosser
18. Herbert
19. Rebarbative
20. The Scottish Play
21. Moral turpitude
22. Apotheosis
23. Vituperation
24. Yokel
25. Commissarial
26. Public piety
27. Decorous
28. Gable
29. Don't be wet
30. Dervish
31. Impish
32. Officious
33. Apposite
34. Milquetoast
35. Arrogate

Three fewer words and phrases to last month but we've got our first Punjabi ones at (1) and (2). French makes another two appearances at (6) and the rest are in English.

EDIT: Thanks to [ profile] loganberrybunny for pointing out the obvious flaw in the poll options below.

[Poll #1776479]


Aug. 17th, 2011 11:05 am
mcgillianaire: (Default)
late 15c. (implied in torturous), from M.Fr. torture "infliction of great pain, great pain, agony," from L.L. torture "a twisting, writhing, torture, torment," from stem of Latin torquere "to twist, turn, wind, wring, distort" (see thwart). The verb is 1580s, from the noun. Related: Tortured; torturing. [via Online Etymology Dictionary]


Aug. 17th, 2011 10:55 am
mcgillianaire: (Changing Guard London)
mid-15c., "legal claim or right; concern; benefit, advantage;" earlier interesse (late 14c.), from Anglo-Fr. interesse "what one has a legal concern in," from M.L. interesse "compensation for loss," from L. interresse "to concern, make a difference, be of importance," lit. "to be between," from inter- "between" (see inter-) + esse "to be" (see essence). Form influenced 15c. by O.Fr. interest "damage," from L. interest "it is of importance, it makes a difference," third person singular present of interresse. Financial sense of "money paid for the use of money lent" (1520s) earlier was distinguished from usury (illegal under Church law) by being in reference to "compensation due from a defaulting debtor." Meaning "curiosity" is first attested 1771. Interest group is attested from 1908; interest rate by 1959. [via Online Etymology Dictionary]
mcgillianaire: (Ari G)
01. Social gadfly
02. Republican in Name Only (RINO)
03. Truculent
04. Trenchant
05. Pusillanimous
06. On the Q.T.
07. Bean counter
08. Leguminosae
09. Separate the wheat from the chaff
10. NIBMY(ism)
11. Obsequious
12. Pinch and punch for the first of the month
13. Courant
14. Succour
15. Milk round
16. Chatham House Rule
17. Take a haircut
18. InterCity 125
19. Lack of spoons
20. Flâneur
21. Kike
22. Gert lush
23. Alacrity
24. Mellifluous
25. Maelstrom
26. Waggish
27. Winsome
28. Lithe
29. Bunny boiler
30. Per diem
31. Something is rotten in the state of Denmark
32. Clothesline
33. Bang to rights
34. Quisling
35. Febrile
36. Vestibule
37. Mendicant
38. Old Buffer

Last month's list has several more words than even May's record-breaking compilation. And we've got quite a mixed bag with an English word that's spelt exactly as its French derivation (20), two Latin terms (8) and (30), an acronym derived word (10), a few phrases including (9), (12), (17), my first Shakespearean quote (31) and a few regionalisms such as (2), (18) and (22). Five months of these posts and a total of 108 words/phrases.

[Poll #1766661]
mcgillianaire: (Ari G)
01. Gloaming
02. Redoubt
03. Venal
04. Après moi le Deluge
05. Every which way
06. Maudlin
07. Bravura
08. Scrivener
09. Carpetbagger
10. Caroused
11. Kippered
12. Anchor store
13. Piquancy
14. Largesse
15. Bint
16. Bang tidy
17. Check yourself before you wreck yourself
18. Chew the cud
19. Moribund
20. Claggy
21. Churlish
22. Ignorantio elenchi
23. Signal-to-noise ratio
24. Splitting the baby
25. Miranda warning
26. Recuse
27. My giddy aunt
28. Pulp fiction
29. Stemware
30. Between Scylla and Charybdis
31. Fane

Many more words this month compared to May but just the one from French (4) and for the first time, one from Latin (22). There's also a couple of bawdy slang terms again (15 & 16) and a few Americanisms (9, 17 & 25).

[Poll #1757775]
mcgillianaire: (Ari G)
01. Ebullient
02. Disquieting
03. Reave
04. Inchoate
05. Stramash
06. Stolid
07. Like turkeys voting for Christmas
08. Boffin
09. Anorak (slang)
10. Qui est très drôle
11. Dog's dinner
12. In rude health
13. Chupame los huevos

Not as many in the list this month due to my travels in America but for the first time I've included foreign languages into the mix with a phrase each from French (10) and Spanish (13). Interestingly, (5) is a Scottish word.

[Poll #1748691]* There is an error in the poll choices. 11-13 should read 11-12.


mcgillianaire: (Default)

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