put the lime in the coconut (fadedjae) wrote in steeltrap,
put the lime in the coconut

The Word Origin Calendar

cumulus - A fluffy type of cloud, "cumulus"" is related to the same Latin root that gives us "cumulative" and "accumulate" and means "piled up." The Indo-European root underlying it, though, gives us words such as cave and cavity, the transference in meaning being the pile that is left when one digs a hole. Luke Howard, a British pharmacist and cloud watcher active in the first half of the nineteenth century, invented the cloud classification.

California - In the Spanish epic poem called The Deeds of Esplendian, which dates to about 1500, "California" occurs as the name of a mythical island governed by an Amazonian queen and laced with gold mines and other treasures. The name may be linked to the Arabic word caliph, meaning "ruler." When Spanish explorers reached the tip of Baja California in the 1530s, the applied the name to the new land.

ibid. - Found in footnotes, "ibid." is an abbreviation of the Lain word ibidem, "in that very same place." It is used in a note to indicate that the source is the same as that for the preceding note.

salary - In the cash-strapped days of the early Roman Republic, soldiers were given a small allowance with which to buy salt, essential to their ability to march and fight. This was called salarium, "salt-payment," whence our term.

moot - If you committed a crime in Anglo-Saxon times, you would be taken to a gemot, a court of law where the fact of that crime would be established and the trial referred to another kind of court. A "moot court," therefore, was all talk and no action, which gives us the modern sense of something that is theoretical or not open to further discussion, as in a "moot point."

as happy as a clam - Animal scientists have long debated whether animals have emotions - they do, most agree - and what level of intelligence is required to possess such feelings. Clams are not known for emotional or other intelligence, but the original New England Saying "as happy as a clam at high tide" is self-explanatory: at high tide, clams are covered in mud and water, safe from predators and secure in their burrows.
  • Post a new comment


    default userpic
    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.
  • 1 comment