Joined: Feb 8, 2013
Judith B. Herman is a Southern California writer with a thing for words and pictures. Her blog, WordSnooper.com, tells the adventures of Lexie Kahn, Private Etymologist. Thanks to Photoshop Judy uses her camera to document unreality.
Sometimes words with the same origin take a separate path in each language, or words with different origins resemble each other by coincidence. That can mean trouble.
It’s easy to guess what an ancestor of someone named Cook, Carpenter, or Smith did for a living. With other occupational surnames, though, either the word or the trade has become obsolete, so the meaning is hidden.
Doctors are notorious for their illegible writing (ask any pharmacist), but these medicos gained more fame for their readable writing than for their skill with a scalpel.
Here's what the key grip, best boy, and gaffer actually do, plus the origins of those titles.
The fleshy, edible, seed-bearing parts of plants are a fruitful source of terms and phrases. We’ve picked eleven for you.
Why does the back of your lower leg have the same name as a baby cow?
A surprising number of common English food and beverage words have Arabic backgrounds.
How many conversations proceed blithely along before the participants realize they’re talking about two different people with sound-alike names?
Most of us know that American “fries” are British “chips.” Here’s a glossary to help you out of trickier menu muddles.