Category Archives: The English Language

Origin of the Drone

Word meanings  can have fascinating histories.  For example, the heavily armored vehicle was named a “tank” to disguise its true purpose.  There are oil tanks, water tanks, etc, so who would expect one that moves and shoots back? Here’s a more contemporary example.  Why are unmanned aircraft called drones? I found one explanation in the

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What is a Pilcrow?

I think there is a technical term for everything. I’m sure you’re familiar with this symbol:  ¶    If (unlike me) you’ve ever wondered what it is, it’s a pilcrow and it has a long history. According to Wikipedia, it can be used as an indent for separate paragraphs or to designate a new paragraph in one

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How New Words Are Formed

Previously I have discussed the English language and the origins of some words. I’ve found another one.  From the Writer’s Almanac, March 23, 2015 — “It’s the birthday of the writer Josef Capek (books by this author), born in Hronov in what is now the Czech Republic in 1887. His brother, Karel, was the famous writer,

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New Word Alert

In a earlier post, I had asked if English had enough words.  This week I found a new word that has been newly invented.  What do you call people who are more than friends?   How about framily?  That’s combining friends and family. I found this in the April 2015 issue of Runner’s World magazine

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Word of the Day — Distaff

Previously I’d mentioned the importance of learning new words.  And the fascinating thing about language is it’s always evolving.  New words are created, meanings change, and new meanings are added.  How many words in English have only one meaning?  Not many, I would guess. My favorite example of how a word’s meaning can change is

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The Magic Book

I’ve mentioned earlier about encouraging students to use a dictionary.  February 1st was the anniversary of publication of the first part of the first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary in 1884. According to the February 1, 2015 email from The Writer’s Almanac,  It covered from “A” to “Ant.” The Philological Society of London had conceived the

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The Origin of Serendipity

One of my favorite subjects is finding useful words and learning how they evolve. That’s one reason I subscribe to “The Writer’s Almanac with Garrison Keillor” from American Public Media. The “Almanac” sends me literary news with a poem every day. This is how I learned that the first use of  the word “serendipity” was

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