A teacher of English as a second language asks our Facebook group to name some unusual words for ordinary things. The group’s suggestions include winklehawk, which means an L-shaped tear in cloth, and diastema, which means a gap between one’s teeth. In his 1926 book History in English Words, Owen Barfield offers this lyrical observation about etymology: “Words may be made to disgorge the past that is bottled up inside them, as coal and wine, when we kindle or drink them, yield up their bottled sunshine.” This is part of a complete episode.
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- Hair on Your Tongue (episode #1517) 02/11/2019: If you speak both German and Spanish, you may find yourself reaching for a German word instead of a Spanish one, and vice versa. This... [more]
- Train of Thought (episode #1516) 02/04/2019: Chances are you recognize the expressions Judgment Day and root of all evil as phrases from the Bible. There are many others, such as the... [more]
- Colonial English (episode #1515) 01/28/2019: The anatomy of effective prose, and the poetry of anatomy. Ever wonder what it'd be like to audit a class taught by a famous writer?... [more]
- Space Cadet (episode #1514) 12/24/2018: We have books for language-lovers and recommendations for history buffs. • How did the word boondoggle come to denote a wasteful project? The answer involves... [more]