More Interesting Word Origins

I love tracking word origins because so there is so often are interesting stories behind them. Apparently knucklehead refers to someone with a brain the size of a knuckle. Samuel Johnson, the compiler of England’s first dictionary, claims the word nincompoop comes from the Latin phrase non compos mentis (“not of right mind”), initially a…

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Dated Words – Here Today Gone Tomorrow

This blog highlights popular expressions made obsolete as technology marches forward. For example, I used to joke that I had a photographic memory that wasn’t developed (which worked fine in the camera film era but not in digital days). Some joke that it’s hard for any Clark Kent to change into Superman in this cell…

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October 16 is National Dictionary Day

October 16 is National Dictionary Day, an unofficial holiday celebrating the birthday of Noah Webster who published An American Dictionary of the English Language in 1828, the earliest version of the now famous, widely-used Merriam-Webster Dictionary. A dictionary is a book, optical disc, mobile device, or online source containing the words of a language alphabetically and providing information about their meanings, pronunciations, etymologies, inflections, and derived forms. The best way to celebrate Dictionary Day is by expanding our…

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“Lest We Forget”

“Lest we forget” is a phrase often used in Remembrance Day services in English-speaking countries, but it also applies to other dates. September 11, 2001 is one such day the world remembers. Its events were four coordinated terrorist attacks by the Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda against the United States. It is believed that Osama bin Laden, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed,…

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Who created these North American flags?

Until July 4th approached, I didn’t know there were doubts that Betsy Ross created our first American flag. The Betsy Ross Facts website says, “Of all famous American Revolutionary women in history, the woman who stands out as an icon is Betsy Ross. Although there is no actual historical evidence, she is widely regarded as the…

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Consider these larger-than-life word names in our language

Delores E. Topliff We have words in our everyday vocabulary, with roots in history, that have grown larger than life. Jezebel was the Phoenician wife of King Ahab who urged Israel to worship Baal. Her schemes killed Naboth, and she vowed to kill Elijah, but instead dogs licked her blood as Elijah prophesied. Today her name describes any impudent,…

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Hear ye, Hear ye, read all about it!

Delores E. Topliff Welcome to 2018, a year of fresh opportunities to create history and make headlines. In fact, there’s no reason any of us might not make news in 2018 by introducing popular new products, best-selling books, useful inventions, medical breakthroughs–the sky’s the limit. The only bottom-line requirement is enough innovation to prove Solomon…

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The Twelve Days of Christmas (or How many people and objects can you crowd into your home?)

Delores E. Topliff How do you manage Christmas in terms of fitting all invited family members into your home? Do you spill into the yard? Spread out even further? This former introvert is now a people person who tucks in all I can–the more the merrier. But even I am stunned at the high number…

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Some fiction characters are so real, they become part of our vocabulary.

Delores E. Topliff Who hasn’t heard of Scrooge? Or seen a cold-hearted miser and been sure they’ve met Scrooge’s brother? (Disney even recreated the Dickens character as Scrooge McDuck.) Or we may meet a total optimist whose personality cheers us all and recognize a Pollyanna. Memorable fiction characters from beloved books are so familiar, their names…

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If the pen is mightier than the sword, don’t let your pen get dull.

Delores E. Topliff My last post featured the popular phrase, “The pen is mightier than the sword.” I was surprised to find it was written in 1839 by English author Edward Bulwer-Lytton, a contemporary of Charles Dickens. He also originated the phrase, “the great unwashed,” and “the almighty dollar.” However, he is most remembered for less-successful words….

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