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Latin Spirare

The words respiration and inspiration have the same Latin root, spirare, which means “to breathe.” The word conspire has the same Latin etymological root. But what does conspiring have to do with breathing? The source of this term is...


Lock the bad guys up in the hoosegow! This slang term for a jail comes from the Spanish juzgado, meaning tribunal. It’s an etymological relative of the English words judge and judicial. This is part of a complete episode.

By Jingo!

If your friend says she’s coming to town Sunday week, exactly when should you expect to see her? What do you call those typographical symbols cartoonists use in place of profanity? Plus grass widows, the linguistic phenomenon called creaky...

Etymological Mish-Mashery

Here’s a testy T-shirt slogan: “Polyamory is wrong! It’s either multiamory or polyphilia. But mixing Greek and Latin roots? Wrong!” This is part of a complete episode.


Is there any etymological connection between the dairy product and the adjective cheesy, meaning inferior, cheap, or otherwise sub-par? This descriptive term for something lowbrow or poorly made at one point had positive connotations in the 1800s...

Arabic Sayings

The Arabic idiom in the apricot season translates to “in your dreams,” presumably because the growing season for this fruit is so brief. Incidentally, the etymological root of “apricot,” which means “to ripen...

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