Archive for the ‘word origins’ Category

September 4th, 2009 - 12:45 pm § in etymology, vocabulary, word origins, words of the day

Words of the Day (9/4)

Check out all my Words of the Day posts HERE. Note: OE = Old English; ME = Middle English; MnE = Modern English. Here are two etymologies that I find interesting. They come from The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language. silly – This comes from the OE word sælig – ‘happy&[...]

September 1st, 2009 - 1:29 pm § in shakespeare, word formation, word origins

Shakespeare’s Contributions to English (Part 2)

If you missed Part 1, read about it here. We learned that Shakespeare added nearly 2,000 words to the English lexicon, including words like hurry, puke, monumental, and majestic. One benefit of the many words that Shakespeare coined is that we can make better distinctions between meanings. For examp[...]

August 31st, 2009 - 2:00 pm § in back-formation, etymology, mass nouns, shakespeare, word formation, word origins


What is back-formation? Back-formation is when a shorter word (lexeme) is created from a longer word. Back-formation occurs when an affix (prefix, suffix) is taken away from a word to create a new one. The term back-formation refers to this process. Remember how the word “pea” came from [...]

August 28th, 2009 - 5:09 pm § in etymology, shakespeare, vocabulary, word origins, words of the day

Words of the day

Every Friday I’m going to post about the etymology (origins) of a few choice words or phrases. “for ever and a day” – meaning indefinitely. This comes from Shakespeare. He used it in two of his plays…1. The Taming of the Shrew (1596): BIONDELLO: I cannot tell; expect th[...]

August 21st, 2009 - 1:42 am § in mass nouns, word origins

Mass nouns (Pease)

One of the first things I remember learning in linguistics was the origin of the word pea (the green spherical vegetable). Pea used to be pease, a mass noun. Mass nouns are nouns that are uncountable and don’t exactly have a plural form. Some common examples are wood, ice, milk, rice, traffic,[...]