Author Archives: WordSnooper.com

About WordSnooper.com

Lexie Kahn: Word Snooper is a blog about words and their origins at WordSnooper.com.

More Words That Are Their Own Opposites

Hmmmm… Would you eat at a restaurant if you had reservations? We’ve talked about contronyms, or words that contradict themselves, before (here and here). The past posts racked up an amazing total of 25 self-contradictory words. You wouldn’t think there could be … Continue reading

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From Barbecue to Hammocks and Hurricanes: the New World’s First Gifts to English

Caguana Ceremonial Ball Courts Site – Utuado Puerto Rico – By Jbermudez at en.wikipedia from Wikimedia Commons When Columbus landed in the New World in 1492, the first humans he encountered were the Taino, an Arawak people, then the most numerous … Continue reading

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Wayward Words with Meanings That Went Astray

Cheater wearing cheaters? After Reymerswaele/ Wikimedia Commons People sometimes tell you you’re misusing a word and cite the Latin origin as proof. Don’t fall for the etymological fallacy. What a word means depends, not on its origin, but on how … Continue reading

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Fruitful Expressions or Why There Are No Plums in Plum Pudding

From sweet lemons to sour grapes, the fleshy, edible, seed-bearing parts of plants are a fruitful source of terms and phrases. “Fruit Dreams” by Judith B. Herman Pick a juicy crop here.

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Jazz, Blues & Babes: The Latest Words from 1915

 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons Terms that first appeared in print in 1915 reveal something about life a hundred years ago. Although the war in Europe left its mark on the lexicon, there are also signs of the changing times … Continue reading

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The Biggest Mystery about English Crime Shows: British Legal Terms You Meant to Look Up

Love British courtroom dramas like “Rumpole of the Bailey,” “Kavanaugh, QC” and “Silk” but a bit muddled on the difference between a silk and a stipe? Get your ducks in a row here. (Thanks to former London solicitor Dana F. … Continue reading

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Spanish Surnames That Reveal Family History

A Barbero is a barber, but a Cantero is not a cantor. Do you know what the ancestors of people named Ballestero and Verdugo did? Find out here.  Source

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