Category Archives: words

Word Snooper Poll: Most Pretentious Buzz Word

The Conceptual Art movement elevated ideas over traditional artistic values like discernment and craftsmanship. Maybe those displaced values needed a home. Is that why suddenly everything outside the realm of art is now “crafted,” “artisanal” or “curated”? You’ve heard of … Continue reading

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Word Snooper Extra: Vote for your favorite blended word.

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Do you prefer your music diegetic?

In the April 18 issue of the New Yorker Nancy Franklin bemoans a stylistic change in new version of the TV series “Upstairs Downstairs.” In the original series the only soundtrack was the music the characters heard on the gramophone, … Continue reading

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A Bouquet of Flower Names and their Origins

In celebration of spring, here’s a little mixed bouquet of flower-name etymologies. The starburst-shaped aster gets its name from Latin aster, which stems fromGreek ἀστήρ meaning ‘star.’ (An asterisk is a little star < Latin asteriscus, < Greek ἀστερίσκος, diminutive … Continue reading

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Noodling around

Thanks to once more to Steven Schwartzman of wordconnections.wordpress.com for suggesting a mnemonic for the order of the planets without Pluto: “My very educated mother just served us noodles.” That’s using the old noodle, Steven. Hmm…how did the word for … Continue reading

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My very educated mother forgot to remember.

Thanks to Steven Schwartzman of wordconnections.wordpress.com for explaining that when English words have their origin in Greek words with consonant blends that don’t occur in English, like the pt- in helicopter, we tend to break them up incorrectly. For example, … Continue reading

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helicopter, helix, pterodactyl

Police use helicopters, but the etymology of helicopter has nothing to do with cops, but rather with fliers of the Jurassic period. It’s helico – pter, from the Greek ἕλικος (elikos) ‘spiral’ + πτερόν (pteron) ‘wing.’ In 1861    G. … Continue reading

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