Is anyone else fascinated by meanings / etymologies of words?

  1. In college I took History of the English Language, and we learned how the English language came about. We not only learned the meanings of words, but we learned where they came from.

    To this day, when I read the definition of something, I also read the etymology.

    At the end of the year, we had a project, where we were given a list of words. We had to look them up, say what part of speech they were, the etymology and use them in sentences.

    (I still have my Oxford English Dictionary used in that class, and the words from that list are highlighted. )

    Procrustean also procrustean: adj. Showing no regard for individual differences or spacial circumstances; ruthlessly inflexible.
    (After Procrustes, a mythical Greek giant.)

    Procrustes was a bandit from Attica. He had his stronghold in the hills outside Eleusis. There, he had an iron bed into which he invited every passerby to lie down. If the guest proved too tall, he would amputate the excess length; if the victim was found too short, he was then stretched out on the rack until he fit.

    Recently, the phrase working blue bothered me. I knew what blue comedy is. Blue comedy that is off-color, risque, indecent, profane or obscene. But I never knew where that came from. My guess would've been the phrase "cursing a blue streak."

    Looking it up, I learned that the phrase came from a British music hall comedian Max Miller, who kept all of his adult jokes in a blue notebook.

    'Working blue' refers to performing said material. A 'blue comedian' or 'blue comic' is a comedian who usually performs blue or is usually known for their blue material.

    Many comedians who are normally family-friendly might choose to work blue when off-camera or in an adult-oriented environment. An example would be Bob Saget.
  2. And from that class, I'm actually surprised snafu is used in mainstream media.

    Snafu is a slang army term, originated during World War II, and it means a chaotic or confused situation. The interesting part is that it's an acronysm for Situation Normal: ALL F:censor: cked Up.
  3. I'm an English major in college, and I LOVE learning the etymologies of words. I have a Word-a-day calendar (I call it my nerd-a-day calendar, hehe) and it tells you the meaning of the day's word, as well as the history behind it. It's fascinating. Also if you go to you can sign up to receive their word of the day by email, along with etymology. Do you watch Jeopardy? I watch it every night.
  4. I don't watch Jeopardy, but I do find myself going to to look up a word if I don't know what it means.
  5. Oh yes, I love just about everything about language and linguistics, and I am constantly pressing the pause button in order to hold forth on the etymology, etc of this or that word used by someone on the screen.

    You can only imagine the delight of my televiewing companions...
  6. My dad taught me another way to spell fish which is

    (gh as in Tough, o as in women, ti as in motion.)

    My History of the English Language teacher taught us the same thing.

    I think she was fascinated with my dad because he's English.
  7. I love word derivations, have always, so does Susanne Moore, author-a little knwn fact about me, ITA with your passion for this!
  8. I love knowing where words come from...particularly if the word has french origins.
  9. Yes, I love reading about phrases, nicknames and slang too.
  10. Another one of my favorites is

    Tantalize: To excite (another) by exposing something desirable by keeping it out of reach.
    (from the Greek figure Tantalus.)

    Tantalus had both a mortal father and a divine one. He was a son of Zeus and nymph Plouto ("riches"). He was a king in the primordial world, the father of a son Broteas whose very name signifies "mortals" (brotoi).
    Tantalus was trusted by the gods and was even welcomed to Zeus's table in Olympus. He started stealing ambrosia and brought it back to his people on earth. He started revealing secrets of the gods. He offered up his son as a sacrifice to the gods, by cutting him up and serving him in a stew. Disgusted, the gods restored his son.
    His punishment in Hades was was to stand in a pool of water beneath a fruit tree with low branches. Whenever he reached for the fruit, the branches would move so he couldn't reach the fruit. Whenever he bent down to get a drink, the water receded before he could get any.
  11. I love doing that too! So ... I studied ancient greek and latin!
  12. This is really fascinating and I enjoyed reading what you have shared.
  13. I heart weird quirky stuff like this. It makes my husbands head hurt.
  14. I started taking a medical terminology course. I thought it was going to be difficult, but because of my History of the English Language course, I'd like to think I have a slight advantage over people. Like History of the English Language, you find the prefix, suffix and root words of medical terms.

    Just for the fun of it, she wrote this word on the board:


    I said "Oh my God" out loud when I saw it. But when you break it down and start at the end, it's pretty easy.
    - oscopy means looking at something through some sort of scope.
    Esophago- means esophagus
    gastro-means stomach
    duoden- means duodenum
    jejun-means small intestine

    So really it means a doctor wants to look at someone digestive system using some sort of scope.

  15. ME TOO! i was a classical civilization major in college.