Showing posts with label Fro. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fro. Show all posts

Oct 17, 2014

Wordology, Idioms

Here are a few idioms that have preserved words that we no longer use by themselves. They are almost exclusively used in context, rather than stand-alone.

Eke is usually used as to 'eke out a living'. It comes from an old verb meaning to add, supplement, or grow. It is also the same word that gave us "eke-name" for additional name, which became "nickname."

Dint comes from the Old English where it originally referred to a blow struck with a sword or other weapon. It is now used as "by dint of something" where 'something' can stand for charisma, hard work, or anything you can use to accomplish something else.

Deserts, as in 'just deserts' comes from an Old French word for 'deserve', and it was used in English from the 13th century to mean that which is deserved. When you get your just deserts, you get your due.

Fro, as in 'to and fro' comes from the old English way of pronouncing from.

Kith, as in 'kith and kin' comes from an Old English word referring to knowledge or acquaintance. The expression "kith and kin" originally meant your country and your family, but later came to have the wider sense of friends and family.

Umbrage, as in 'take umbrage' comes from the French ombrage (shade, shadow), and it was once used to talk about shade from the sun. It took on various figurative meanings having to do with doubt and suspicion or the giving and taking of offense. To give umbrage was to offend someone, to "throw shade".

Shrift, as in 'short shrift' came from the practice of allowing a little time for the condemned to make a confession before being executed. In that context, shorter was never better.