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Articles on Interesting Origins


Over the years, here on the blog, we’ve looked at many of the interesting stories or rumours about where certain words and phrases in the English language originate from. One reason for this is because we believe that knowing the origin can really help trigger your memory when trying to figure out how to spell a word (particularly in the case of word roots). The other reason, of course, is that many of these stories are so interesting and unexpected.

If you’re new to our site, here are five of our favourite articles on word origins to get you started.

From Avada Kedavra to Abracadabra!

Have you ever wondered where our words for magic spells come from? In this article we take a closer look three of the most famous magical incantations: ‘Open Sesame’, ‘Hocus Pocus’, and ‘Abracadabra’. Follow the link to find out what the actual words in the spells mean, how they entered the English language, and what they were used for. Plus – if you’re a Harry Potter fan – you can look forward to an interesting detail about the most dangerous spell of them all.

Five Weird Word Facts

This article is a round-up of some of our favourite Facebook posts. Where does the phrase ‘steal my thunder’ come from? Do ‘just deserts’ have anything to do with actual desserts? What about ‘humble pie’? How has the word ‘snob’ changed meaning over the years? Follow the link for five weird wordy facts!

Twenty Words from Greek Mythology (part one and part two)

What do the words ‘atlas’, ‘iridescent’, ‘nemesis’, and ‘typhoon’ have in common? In this two part series, we look at twenty words used in English today that have origins in Greek mythology. Some come from the names of gods, goddesses and spirits, while others from the names places.

You may also be interested in reading about Greek and Latin word roots.

You are the Apple of My Eye

In this old Valentine’s Day post, we find out the interesting story behind this sweet declaration of affection. From the Bible, to Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, we look at famous quotes that feature the expression and try to figure out what it might literally mean. Have you ever noticed that we use the word ‘pupil’ to refer to both a schoolchild and a part of the eye? Find out why by following the link.

If this article is too soppy for you, why not check out our Halloween post on the terrifying origin myths behind three everyday idioms.

Two American Idioms

While we often use the phrases ‘jump on the bandwagon’ and ‘barking up the wrong tree’ here in the UK, both expressions originate from across the pond. You may also be interested in this article on words borrowed from Native American and First Nations languages.

Are there any expressions you’d like us to uncover the origins stories of? Let us know and we’ll feature them in future blog posts.

Have a great week!


14 Jun 2016
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