Originally from the Californian gold mines, digger made its way to our Australian goldfields with miners from the US of A in the 1850’s.
At its core digger represented mateship. Continue reading “digger, n.”
It’s well known that the hippopotamus’ name means river-horse (or rather horse of the river). The word, as a matter of course, wound its way into English via Latin; horse from the Greek hippos, river from the Greek potamus.
But considering how little a hippopotamus and a horse have in common, I never understood why this is its name. And I’ve always thought it a poor naming decision, etymologically. That all changed this week.
In math, the aliquant part of a number makes for a messy division.
The aliquot part will keep division tidy and round.
Confusion hazard aside, seeing the balance and grace of these two together is a bit like ballet on a page. Maybe there’s a lovely metaphor to be made with their definitions but I’m just here for the toe-dancing.
As a kid The Humpy was what my Dad, a Danish migrant, called the tiny workshop he’d created inside a built-in cupboard in the spare room. Because we weren’t meant to go into The Humpy, it was the best hideout for my siblings and I – when Dad wasn’t home.
Growing up, we often used humpy to refer to any cubby house we “built” inside the house or out. We were quite close to using it correctly in some of those instances. Continue reading “humpy, n”
Better known as bon mot, it is such a good word. Literally -because we acquired it in the late 1700’s from the French word for word. Those pithy French had been using mot since the 12th Century to mean “remark” or “short speech”. Continue reading “mot, n.”
This onewas my favourite word from Macquarie Dictionary’s shortlist for Word of the Year. Granted greigeis a little light on meaning (as well as colour) when compared to the winners, runners up and other contenders but there is plenty of room to move and groove in that definition. And it’s a delight to enunciate. Continue reading “greige, adj.”
It might have participated in some great Shakespearean insults – if only it had come into its own just a couple of centuries earlier.
In the late 18th century, schist (a layered type of metamorphic rock) was hewn from the earlier schistus, modified at the beginning of the 17th century from le French, schiste.
The French had broken up Latin’s schistos lapis (“stone that splits easily”~ Pliny), in turn derived from Greek skhistos (divided, separated) – originally a chip of their ol’ skhizein (to split).