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 3rd, 2009 - 1:41 pm § in alphabet, orthography, spelling

The English Alphabet

Yesterday we saw how English spelling has changed over time. But what about the English alphabet? Have we always written in the same way? The answer is, of course, no – the alphabet has changed several times over the years. The earliest written texts we have of English were in Anglo-Saxon rune[...]

September 2nd, 2009 - 1:49 pm § in etymological spelling, etymology, mysteries of english, pronunciation, spelling

Renaissance Spelling

Did you ever wonder why English has such a strange spelling system? There are countless reasons for this, but borrowing another language’s spelling rules is a major one. Throughout history, it was been in fashion to borrow aspects of language and culture from other admired countries. In Renais[...]

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[...]