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Origin of the Word “Paraphernalia”

Rachel from Ashland, Virginia, wonders about the origin of paraphernalia, or “items belonging to a particular person or used for a particular activity.” In ancient Greece, the pherna was a bride’s dowry, and the parapherna was her...

Amethyst Etymology

The ancient Greeks believed that the precious purple stone called an amethyst had the power to prevent a person from becoming intoxicated. That belief is reflected in the name of this gem, which comes from the Greek prefix a- meaning...

Etymology of Salary

If you’re making a salary, be grateful that it’s paid out in dollars and not salt. In antiquity, salt was a valuable commodity, and the term salary comes from the Latin salarium, the portions of salt paid to Roman soldiers. This is part...

Pope Tweets in Latin

The Pope tweets in Latin! As it turns out, Latin is such an efficient language that it can compress a lot into 140 characters. This is part of a complete episode.

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