Loophole; named for the small holes through which archers would fire

Loophole: Is made up of ‘Loop’, which actually originates in the Latin ‘loupa’, later ‘loupe’ in middle English, which meant a small window. And ‘hole’, which comes from the proto-Indo-European (PIE) word ‘kel’, which later became ‘hul’ in early German and ‘hohl’ in modern German. Today loophole is used to mean an almost unnoticeable hole…

Ketchup: Chinese fish sauce

Ketchup has a fairly recent etymology but has still come a long way in that short time. The word comes from a 17th century Chinese term ‘kê-chiap’ meaning ‘Brine’ and referred to a sauce made from pickled fish and spices. 18th century British explorers visiting the region brought the term (and the sauce) to England…

Christmas: Dismissal from celebrating the rubbed one.

Christmas: The annual festival commemorating the birth of Jesus, celebrated on the 25th of December. The word ‘Christmas’ can be traced to the old English word ‘Crīstesmæsse’, first recorded in 1038. ‘Crīstesmæsse’ combining two words; ‘Crīst’ and ‘mæsse’. The word ‘Crist’ meant ‘The annointed one’ and was in use to describe Jesus of Nazareth from…

Jerkin: likely meaning day jacket

Jerkin: A close fitting jacket, usually without sleeves, worn by men in the sixteenth and seventeenth century. I have had a request for the origin of the word ‘Jerkin’, the word itself can be traced back to circa 1510 CE but unfortunately its origins are uncertain. The most likely origin is the old French word…

Phrase: Hair Of The Dog

If you’re feeling a little delicate after a night of drinking last night, someone may have recommended that you try the ‘Hair of the dog’; more alcohol the day after heavy drinking – but why is it called that? The phrase is short for ‘Hair of the dog that bit me’; to find the origins…

Ghost – Excitement

Ghost – An apparition of a dead person. Ghost is derived from the Old English word ‘gast’ which meant ‘breath’. ‘Gast’ was in turn derived from the Proto-Germanic word ‘gaistaz’ and ultimately came from the Proto-Indo-Eurpoean word ‘gheis’ which meant ‘excitement’ or ‘fear’.

Fake – To polish

Fake – not genuine; imitation or counterfeit. It’s a word which has been thrown around a lot lately, especially in the American media, but where does it come from? It’s past is actually rather murky; it has its origins in criminal slang and was a word used to deliberately confuse – so that those who…