Home » Book Recommendations » Why Does “Ghost” Have an “H”?

Why Does “Ghost” Have an “H”?

Play episode
What is the letter H doing in the English word ghost? The answer has to do with 15th-century Flemish typesetters working for the English printer William Caxton. They often added an H after an initial hard G to reflect the spelling of cognates in their own language. While many of those spellings didn’t stick, the G in ghost did, probably because the term Holy Ghost appeared so often in early printed works. Linguist Arika Okrent explains a host of linguistic conundrums like that in her new, highly accessible book Highly Irregular: Why Tough, Through, and Dough Don’t Rhyme — and Other Oddities of the English language. (Bookshop|Amazon). This is part of a complete episode.

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

More from this show

Good Leather, Well Put Together

Laura in San Antonio, Texas, says her handsome father describes himself as a fine piece of leather, well put together. This phrase is probably a reference to a fine leather shoe and the artistry it takes to put it together. For years, shoe companies...

Book Recommendations