Search found 82 matches

by John Barton
Sun Mar 24, 2013 4:47 am
Forum: Word Origins and Meanings
Topic: Why do we say mice but not hice, or houses but not mouses?
Replies: 14
Views: 7095

Re: Why do we say mice but not hice, or houses but not mouses?

In dialects such as Norfolk, 'mice' rhyming with 'rice' is considered affected. It is pronounced ''meese" With 'meesen' I think an acceptable alternative. Just as 'chickens' is a redundancy greeted with hoots in some counties - one chick, two chicken. The northern 'hoose' pronunciation for house wou...
by John Barton
Sun Mar 24, 2013 4:30 am
Forum: Word Origins and Meanings
Topic: ambulance at the bottom of the cliff
Replies: 4
Views: 5279

Re: ambulance at the bottom of the cliff

The origin of this aphorism is not later than 1895, the date of a poem "The Ambulance Down in the Valley" by Joseph Malins. But Wikipedia attributes it to (without certainty) Sir Truby King, a pioneer New Plymouth (New Zealand) doctor, in relation to infant mortality. Since the latter was born 1858,...
by John Barton
Fri Mar 30, 2012 10:20 pm
Forum: Usage and Writing
Topic: Anacronyms
Replies: 4
Views: 2387

Anacronyms

Suggested word for a 'fake' acronym. Example: T.O.D.A.Y as an acronym for "The Only Day After Yesterday".
by John Barton
Mon Sep 26, 2011 4:38 am
Forum: Word Origins and Meanings
Topic: "human" - word origin of
Replies: 21
Views: 13270

Re: "human" - word origin of

Thanks, Allen. I might have mentioned that the phrase "Man is his own worst enemy" indicates occasional reaction to the idea that we are body and mind gifted sometimes with a spirit. Humanism, usually atheist, believes that man alone is or someday will be, all-powerful, so there is no need for a dei...
by John Barton
Sun Sep 25, 2011 8:49 pm
Forum: Word Origins and Meanings
Topic: "human" - word origin of
Replies: 21
Views: 13270

Re: "human" - word origin of

Without checking OED, I wonder whether 'human' and 'humane' weren't originally the same word, same pronunciation. John Locke's famous : "Essay on Humane Understanding" of 1690 for example is merely 17thC spelling. "Human" is a term loosely used and usually with very little thought. As in phrases suc...
by John Barton
Fri Sep 16, 2011 9:34 pm
Forum: Word Origins and Meanings
Topic: Citerior
Replies: 5
Views: 2808

Citerior

Seems to me this is a word with a good candidacy for revival. Marked by OED as uncommon, it has been virtually forgotten. Why do motives have always to be "ulterior", and never the opposite, "citerior", i.e. without any sinister element? Which would seem, to be a mental language rut, in the way no-o...
by John Barton
Fri Sep 09, 2011 5:40 am
Forum: Usage and Writing
Topic: Possessive pronouns
Replies: 5
Views: 1584

Re: Possessive pronouns

I agree that the feminism of 'herstory' for history can get as silly as the old church joke where a woman complains to the vicar that 'Awomen' should replace Amen, and is asked whether she would advocate the singing of 'hers' instead of hymns, Eric. Or on another topic, inventing feminines for words...
by John Barton
Fri Sep 09, 2011 12:15 am
Forum: Usage and Writing
Topic: Possessive pronouns
Replies: 5
Views: 1584

Possessive pronouns

The possessive forms terminating 's were apparently uncommon before the 18th century, and possibly originate in abbreviation of the common genitives ending in -es. 'Kinges', for example, becoming 'king's' in order to distinguish it from the plural of 'king'. . But it seems quite possible that, inste...
by John Barton
Sat Apr 02, 2011 4:18 am
Forum: Word Origins and Meanings
Topic: happy as a sandboy
Replies: 15
Views: 11076

Re: happy as a sandboy

Well, I began with "I think", and I really do. Sometimes. As Einstein said:
"If the theory doesn't fit the facts, then the facts must be wrong".
People even blame Newton for his false hypotheses, when in fact he never stated any.
by John Barton
Fri Apr 01, 2011 9:14 am
Forum: Word Origins and Meanings
Topic: happy as a sandboy
Replies: 15
Views: 11076

Re: happy as a sandboy

I think 'The Sandman' is much older than the song, and not a nice guy. Used to terrify children: The Sandemanians or Glassites were a religious party expelled from the Church of Scotland for maintaining that national churches, being “kingdoms of this world,” are unlawful. The name 'Glassites' origin...
by John Barton
Sun Oct 18, 2009 9:25 pm
Forum: Word Origins and Meanings Archive
Topic: Weesel
Replies: 8
Views: 9954

Re: Weesel

That's interesting; I had no idea the expression "to wet one's whistle" was that old. Thanks both, and thank-you especially for not mentioning anything that goes pop after eating rice and treacle! Fowler remarks on a trend of the affected classes around 1920 to pronounce the 't' in such words as 'wh...
by John Barton
Sat Oct 17, 2009 11:32 pm
Forum: Word Origins and Meanings Archive
Topic: Weesel
Replies: 8
Views: 9954

Weesel

This is apparently a C17th English word meaning "epiglottis" or uvula. It seems not to be in OED or any other dictionary I can find, under this or variant spellings. I have a copy of the 1694 English translation by William Salmon of Isbrand van Diemerbroeck's "The Anatomy of Human Bodies..." in whic...
by John Barton
Sat Oct 17, 2009 11:03 pm
Forum: Word Origins and Meanings Archive
Topic: the green room
Replies: 11
Views: 13327

Re: the green room

The first recorded use is in a play by Thomas Shadwell called The True Widow, first performed at Dorset Garden Theatre in London in December 1678: “No, Madam: Selfish, this Evening, in a green Room, behind the Scenes, was before-hand with me”. The use of a here might suggest it was just a green-pain...
by John Barton
Sun Oct 04, 2009 11:13 pm
Forum: Word Origins and Meanings
Topic: toby [toby tap / water toby; toby jug]
Replies: 9
Views: 12765

Re: toby [toby tap / water toby; toby jug]

Thanks, Ken, for once again giving a very full and interesting reply. I had no idea that Shelta (also known as Gammen, Sheldru, Pavee, Caintíotar or simply "The Cant") is still spoken by 86,000 people. The Wikipedia article on it is fascinating.
by John Barton
Fri Oct 02, 2009 9:15 am
Forum: Word Origins and Meanings
Topic: lavatory
Replies: 18
Views: 6513

Re: lavatory

Mistake corrected. I note Concise Oxford gives short 'a' (as in 'fat') for lav and lavatory (which I would dispute) but, inconsistently, long 'a' (as in 'fate') for the verb 'lave', to wash, yet short 'a' for 'lavage', as in gastric ~, which word I have never heard pronounced other than with a long ...