Showing posts with label Oxford English Dictionary. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Oxford English Dictionary. Show all posts

Sep 16, 2016

Dictionary Update

The venerable Oxford English Dictionary has added some new words for us to remember. The dictionary is updated every three months, and September's update marks the centenary of the birth of children's book author Roald Dahl. It has added vocabulary described by another newly added word, 'Dahlesque'.

'Splendiferous', as we have read in Roald Dahl children's books means full of or abounding in splendor.

'Yogalates', a fitness routine combining yoga techniques with pilates exercises.

'Moobs', the scourge of older men, is finally defined as unusually prominent breasts on a man, or a contraction of man boobs

'Gender-fluid' may sound like leaking, due to too much drinking, however, it really means a person with a fluid or unfixed gender mental identity, which can change from day to day.

'YOLO' is an acronym for You Only Live Once. Sorry, Shirley MacLaine.

Jan 29, 2016

Time and Time Zones

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, time is the most frequently used noun in the English language, and year is the third most frequently used noun. Person is the second most used noun.

The world is divided into about 40 time zones, including 27 hourly time zones. In addition, there are several time zones of just 30 or 45 minutes apart.

China and time zones - Despite being larger than mainland United States in terms of land area, China has one single time zone (UTC+8).

Mainland United States is divided into four time zones.

France has 12 time zones, most of which are in its overseas territory. The country of France itself observes a single time zone.

Russia, The world's largest country has eleven time zones. Daylight saving time is not used in Russia.

Canada, the world's second largest country, has six time zones.

Antarctica and the Arctic are the only areas where all standard time zones currently followed in the world, converge. Amundsen–Scott Station on the South Pole however uses New Zealand time (UTC+12 and UTC+13 during DST).

May 10, 2013

Humpty Dumpty

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, “humpty dumpty” was first used in the 17th century and referred to brandy boiled with ale. In the 1700s, it was also a term used to describe a short, clumsy person. It has also been a nickname attributed to someone who has had too much alcohol, as in brandy boiled in ale.

The nursery rhyme is neither a bottle of alcohol nor a person, it is most likely that the nursery rhyme was intended as a riddle. The answer to the riddle is an egg. Something that, if it rolled off a wall, could not be mended by any number of people. Today, the answer is so well known that the character of Humpty Dumpty is an egg and the rhyme is not considered to be a riddle at all, but a story.

Nov 28, 2012

Wordology, Hysteria

From the Greek "hystera" = uterus. For a few thousand years until the late nineteenth century, hysteria referred to a medical condition thought to be particular to women and caused by disturbances of the uterus.

Definitions include: uncontrollably emotional; irrational from fear, emotion, or an emotional shock; very funny as from hysterical or uncontrollable fits of laughter.

In psychology they say it is a disorder in which a psychological conflict is converted into a bodily disturbance.

During the 1800s it was decided that men could also be hysterical. In time it could be applied to anyone as the definition expanded to be an emotional state, rather than a physical state.

Incidently, the Oxford English Dictionary says the colloquial term 'hissy fit' for someone would go into hysterics and throw a tantrum if they didn't get their way. comes from hysteria.

Jul 13, 2012

History of Mooning

Some sources have cited mooning, or baring one’s butt at another as an insult that stretches back to the Romans, but the gesture as we know it today seems to have started in the Middle Ages.

Wikipedia claims that the first known instance of mooning was recorded by the famous Roman-Jewish historian Josephus in the 1st century A.D. According to Josephus’ account in The Wars of the Jews, a Roman soldier bared his rear to an audience of Jews celebrating Passover, and incited a  riot that killed “upwards of thirty thousand.” However, a closer examination of Josephus’s account shows that the soldier was not mooning the crowd, but rather farting in their general direction. Josephus puts it more delicately, “One of the soldiers, raising his robe, stooped in an indecent attitude, so as to turn his backside to the Jews, and made a noise in keeping with his posture.”

One of the earliest known instances of mooning happened during the Fourth Crusade around 1203, when Western Europeans attempted to take Constantinople. As the crusaders’ ships pulled away after the failed attack, the Byzantines hooted and hollered and “showed their bare buttocks in derision to the fleeing foe.” Another account tells of the Italian nobleman and troubadour Alberico da Romano, who was so indignant at losing his favorite falcon during a hunt that he “dropped his trousers and exposed his rear to the Lord as a sign of abuse and reviling."

Though it was a worldwide phenomenon by the 19th century, mooning didn’t get its name until the 1960s. The Oxford English Dictionary dates moon and mooning to student slang of the 1960s, when the gesture became increasingly popular at American universities. The term derives from the use of moon or moons as slang for the bare buttocks.

Mar 4, 2011

How Come

The oldest reference for "how come" in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is an entry in Bartlett's Dictionary of Americanisms published in 1848. The OED calls "how come" an American coinage, but the entry in Bartlett's indicates it originated in England: "Doubtless an English phrase, brought over by the original settlers." "How come" is believed to be a shortened from "how did it come about that," or "how comes it, then"  It makes sense, but has somehow been lost in current usage and many people do not really know what it means, but use it anyway. That phrase bugs me. How come people say how come instead of why?