Who knew?

Part of my daily routine is to check the Word-of-the-Day from Merriam-Webster. I guess I have a reasonable vocabulary as most often I already know the meaning of the word, but the reason I check in daily is to read about the etymology of the word, Fascinating stuff. As you might expect lots of words come to us from Latin and became cognates in spoken English. Some came from Middle French and of course, especially here in the United States we adopt words from other languages when it seems beneficial to do so. Think “burrito”…., the food, …not the diminutive for burro. Continue reading

While I am it…

Earlier today there was a post about the challenges of pronunciation. Merriam Webster later posted “You’re (Probably) Saying It Wrong: 18 words even you might be mispronouncing. As I read the article I could heart the echo of my mom and several teachers saying: “OK, you know how to spell it….just sound it out.” There are at least 18 words where that advise wouldn’t have helped me. Continue reading


I have to admit that the first time I heard the word “onomatopoeia” I was fascinated. “What could it possibly mean?” Onomatopoeia means “the creation or use of words that imitate sounds.” English speakers have only used the word onomatopoeia since the 1500s, but people have been creating words inspired by the sounds heard around them for much longer. It may not surprise you to learn that fizz, jingle, toot, and pop are onomatopoeic in origin, but did you know the same is true of bounce, tinker, and blimp? Boom! Now you do.

Image Credit: PDPics on Pixabay
Merriam Webster: Word of the Day (Nov 28, 2022)

Surprising Words

One of my daily emails comes from the good people at Merriam-Webster and their “Word of the Day.” The definitions are good, but it is the etymology of the words that I find fascinating. Who knew “desultory” was connected to the circus.

“The Latin adjective desultorius, the parent of desultory, was used by the ancients to refer to a circus performer (called a desultor) whose trick was to leap from horse to horse without stopping. It makes sense, therefore, that someone or something desultory “jumps” from one thing to another. (Desultor and desultorius, by the way, are derived from the Latin verb salire, which means “to leap.”) A desultory conversation leaps from one topic to another and doesn’t have a distinct point or direction. A desultory student skips from one subject to another without applying serious effort to any one. A desultory comment is a digressive one that jumps away from the topic at hand. And a desultory performance is one resulting from an implied lack of steady, focused effort.”  [Merriam Webster]

Just a little something interesting on a Friday afternoon after Christmas.