Decoding British Pub Menus

pub 502px-The_Queens_Arms_pub_-_Charlotte_Street_-_Birmingham_-_2005-10-14

Photo  Source

Fancy a pudding wine? How about jugged hare and a side of rocket and baps? Bit of a muddle? No worries, luv. This glossary will set you right:

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Some Occupations You’ve Never Heard of Revealed in English Surnames

It’s easy to guess what an ancestor of someone named Cook, Carpenter, or Smith did for a living. With other occupational surnames, though, either the word or the trade has become obsolete, so the meaning is hidden. Can you guess what a forbisher or a kisser did?

What surnames would you dream up based on present-day occupations?

Here’s the original Webster: Wikimedia Commons: Common garden spider, underside, spinning web. source:me {{GFDL}}

spider Araneus_diadematus_underside_1

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Is This Trio of Words the Longest English Homonym?

These word pairs (and one trio) are identical, but not twins or triplets. Like the mythical doppelgangers, they were born at different times and places. Continue readingPeriwinkle_3“Periwinkle 3” by Mokkie

periwinkle 640px-Littorina_littorea_02“Littorina littorea 02” by H. Zell –

Periwinkle Rosalba_Carriera_-_A_Gentleman_in_a_Gold_Patterned_Coat_and_Violet-Brown_Cape_(ca._1727)_-_Google_Art_ProjectRosalba Carriera [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons Periwig/Periwinkle

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An Example That Defines “Humblebrag” defines “humblebrag” as:

Subtly letting others now about how fantastic your life is while undercutting it with a bit of self-effacing humor or “woe is me” gloss.

Here’s a prime example, which I overhead last week at the Aspen Music Festival and School:

Music Student 1: I had this strange gig last night.

Music Student 2: Yeah?

humblebrag City_of_Martin_Folk_Dance_Music_Group_Eyes_of_Violin_Player…Eyes_of_Violin_Player.JPG                                               By JacquesDuivenvoorden 

MS1: It was this tribute dinner for James Levine? And we had to play these, you know, Johann Strauss waltzes? And, like, they only gave us the scores 36 hours before? And they had me play First Violin. I was so nervous; I had way more notes than anyone else. Good thing James Levine wasn’t there.

Both: [Laughter]

MS1: But Bono was there!

MS2: And you think he judged you harshly?

MS1: Yeah…

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Extra Lex: 14 Food and Beverage Words with Arabic Origins

imageAn  alcoholic’s first nip of the morning may be called an “eye opener,” but who would have thought that the word “alcohol” derived from a term related to eyeliner?  Get the scoop here:

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Extra Lex: A Three-Letter Word That Defies Definition

It’s a common word with only three letters. But can you define “art”?

To Plato, art was imitation of nature, but in the 19th century, photography took over that function, and in the 20th, abstract art overturned the whole notion that art was about representation. And although art meant skill early on, conceptual artists elevated ideas over execution. So what is art? Does it have to be beautiful? Expressive? Original? Uplifting? Intellectual? Here’s how 27 artists, critics, and others answered the question, “What is art?”

Paris Photo20140427_174833


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Extra Lex: Treacherous Look-Alike Words in Spanish and English

According to an old ditty, “Spanish is a funny language where ropa isn’t rope, sopa isn’t soap and the butter is meant t’ kill ya.” Here are 48 more examples of Spanish-English “false friends”:

Spanish-English faux amis


Incidentally, mantequilla, butter, is the diminutive of manteca, lard.

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