Tag Archives: Etymology

Pints And Pounds

A pint’s a pound the world around. Traditional American mnemonic A pint of water’s a pound and a quarter. Traditional British mnemonic There’s something odd going on there, isn’t there? I learned that British mnemonic at primary school, and I can still vividly recall my first encounter with the American version—in a Robert Heinlein juvenile … Continue reading Pints And Pounds


rəʊˈtɪsɪtɪ rhoticity: pertaining to a variety or dialect of English in which r is pronounced not only in pre-vocalic position but also before a consonant or word-finally So, there’s an American professor of theology visiting England for the first time. As his train departs from London King’s Cross station, he hears an announcement over the … Continue reading Rhoticity


ˈædvənt Advent: in the ecclesiastical calendar, the season immediately preceding the festival of the Nativity, now including the four preceding Sundays Advent comes from Latin adventus, “arrival”, and the capitalized Advent refers, of course, to the arrival of the child Jesus, celebrated on Christmas Day. Because of the ecclesiastical business about Advent starting four Sundays … Continue reading Advent

Abbreviation & Contraction

We were watching the excellent Lesley Manville in the film Mrs. Harris Goes To Paris (2022) the other night, and I found myself mildly irritated by the punctuation of the title. (This sort of thing happens to me—it’s a curse.) The film is based on a book by Paul Gallico, Mrs. ’Arris Goes To Paris … Continue reading Abbreviation & Contraction

Four English Words Derived From Gaelic

Ach, he’s feeling the shortage of whisky. We’re all feeling it, Sergeant. Never mind. Good things will come again, and we’ll have whisky galore. Uisge beatha gu leòir. Compton Mackenzie, Whisky Galore (1947) I’ve written before about the relative dearth of Scottish Gaelic vocabulary in Scottish English. Instead, much of the difference in vocabulary between … Continue reading Four English Words Derived From Gaelic


ˈpædʒəntrɪ / ˈpeɪdʒəntrɪ pageantry: 1) splendid display, gorgeous spectacular show; 2) empty or specious display, show without substance What pageantry, what feats, what shows,What minstrelsy, and pretty din,The regent made in MytileneTo greet the king. William Shakespeare, Pericles, Prince of Tyre Act V, Scene II The coronation of King Charles III got me thinking about … Continue reading Pageantry