Tag Archives: etymology

“Juvescence” and other poetical “Errors”

This morning on the Twitter came this from @nemoloris: OED says “juvescence” is “irregular”, not “erroneous”, but (notorious TSE fan) Robert Burchfield himself called it a malformation (in his Eliot memorial lectures, I believe). Eliot’s defensive letter, sourced by @rngould, is worth keeping in mind: irregular needn’t be erroneous, and sometimes poets are looking to […]

Englishing Non-European Words

My last post focussed on words that are formed within English from other English words with non-English origins. I mostly concentrated on European donor languages, because they make up the overwhelming majority, and show the most variation. But English Englishes wherever it goes, and non-European languages have contributed plenty of English words over the years. […]

The What and When of English’s Englishing

In my previous post, I used OED3’s etymologies to chart the languages that gave English its words, noting that most English words come from other English words.  I then dug deep into all the non-English sources of English. Today I’ll take a closer look at the etymological sources of English words developed within English. Lexical […]

European and Non-European English Etymons

This weekend I’ve been poking around in OED3’s etymologies, and it occurred to me that an interesting thing might be lay out all English words according to when they are first attested, and what language they come from. This morning I made a bunch of graphs, below. Before having a look, it’s worth mentioning that […]

The Lifespan of Words (three ways)

Getting ready for DH2017 this morning, I found myself curious about the lifespan of English words–when they come into the language and when they fall out. So I got all the earliest and latest attestation dates for all the words in OED3, and plotted them out. Here are three graphs (“visualizations,” if you like), all […]

How Indigenous American words came into English

I’ve been deep in the OED documentation of borrowings and loanwords for my look at “tramlines” [see my previous post, and look out for a few more to come] and OED’s treatment of foreign, about to be naturalized, and naturalized words. I got curious about some of the Indigenous American words in my dataset, and […]

Etymologies

Anstruther Press has recently published Etymologies, a chapbook of poems by Asa Boxer, with an introductory essay by me: See the page at Anstruther Press for more details.

Life of Words Poetry Competition

Good news for Ontario secondary school students who like words: The Life of Words is announcing the first in what will be an annual poetry competition, in which we invite submissions of poems about words and reward excellence with some pretty great prizes. Here is the competition web page, where we’ll post links, news, and […]

The Colour of Greyhounds

Do you know the old joke, “What colour was Napoleon’s white horse?” Well I have another one for you: “What colour was Napoleon’s greyhound?”. Not sure? You may consult the Official Greyhound Colour Chart: Here’s how OED sums up the situation: Apparently < a first element cognate with Old Icelandic grey bitch (further etymology uncertain: […]

Maniacal Mental Etymology

In a recent number of the London Review of Books [37.20; 22 October 2015], a poem by Anne Carson gets thinking about etymology: Prepare for thinking (in the car as we go) by reading a book found in the garage, Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots, where I learn ‘to think’ comes from root men-, (zero […]