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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The pen is mightier than the sword, so keep your pen sharp!

Delores E.  Topliff Written words inform us, entertain, and even change history. During the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln described Harriett Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, as, “The little woman who wrote the book that started this great war.” Near that same time, Charles Dickens wrote about poverty, hunger, child labor, cruelty, and injustice in novels like Hard Times,…

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Collective Nouns—charming delights for word lovers

Delores E. Topliff This post began when I saw a delightful bird in Scotland and asked its name. “It’s a Chaffinch, in the Finch family,” my friend said. “A group is called a charm of finches.” That had me off and running since I’m a logophile, a lover of words of nearly all kinds. Some…

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If ‘Home is where the heart is’, mine keeps growing.

Delores E. Topliff “There’s a Tibetan saying: “Wherever you have friends, that’s your country, and wherever you receive love, that’s your home.” In my life, many valued ongoing friendships result from my many years of teaching high school and college in various places. A friend of mine made a list, and found that during that…

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How things get their names, Part 2 (and what does twine have to do with cars?)

Delores E. Topliff This is my second post about car brands, often named for inventors or developers. “Automobile” is a French-coined word adopted by manufacturers. In 1909, when it was clear automobiles were not a passing fad, eight Detroit businessmen partnered to make and sell cars for less than $1,000 (equal to around $26,000 today)….

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How do things get their names? Part 1

Delores E. Topliff For this post, I’ll focus on the origination of some American auto brands. Their names are often linked to their inventor or developer. Henry Ford may be the best-known example. However, the Edsel, named for his only son, was intended to be a successful separate brand but appeared during a recession and…

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