Feb 1, 2013

Fabric Etymology

Many of the fabric names we use today have very old origins, some quite surprising. Lets take a look at some of them.

It is a very old type of cloth which is made from flax. The word linen dates back to Old English linen – our earliest record of it is from 700 A.D. This word has not changed in over a millenium! There were cognates in Old Frisian, Old Scandinavian, and Old High German, all of which came from a Proto-Germanic root *linom which means "flax".

It has its roots in the Arab town of Mosul, where the cloth was originally made. The Romance languages all have cognates, as does Greek: musselin. The current form of the word dates in English to the early 17th century. However, Old French had mosulin in the 13th century, but this was applied to "cloth of silk and gold’ from Mosul, according to Marco Polo.

This word is quite old, dating from the time that the Greeks obtained silk from the east. The Greek form was seres, and the Romans borrowed that word along with the adjectival form, sericus. Seres is the name that the Greeks had for the oriental people who first provided them with silk. It is thought that the "r" may have changed to an "l" as the word traveled from the Greco-Romans to the Baltic area. There is an Old Slavic form shelku, as well as Old Norse silki and Old English sioloc. No other Germanic language possess this word. Interestingly, silkie is an old Scottish word for seals, so-named because of their silky fur.

It is a stiff, transparent form of silk, got its name from organzine, a strong, high-quality silk thread. That word comes from Italian organzino (17th century) but the source of the Italian word is not known.

It is, interestingly, related to our broach/brooch. It comes from Spanish brocado, which corresponds to Italian broccato "cloth of gold and silver", but literally broccato is "something bossed or embossed". The Italian form comes originally from the verb broccare "to boss, to stud, to set with great-headed nails", from Italian brocca "a boss or stud". Brocca is cognate with English broach/brooch, which is simply a boss worn on one's clothing .

Many of us probably assumed Tweed was named after the River Tweed in the Borders of Scotland, but this is not so. It is actually the product of a misunderstanding! This misunderstanding occurred in about 1831, when someone misread the Scottish word tweel "twill" as tweed. It is likely that the river name played some part in the misreading, but the cloth is not named after the river. Exactly who was guilty of this error has not been well determined. However, in 1847, it was written "Narrow cloths, of various kinds, known by the name of Tweeds,..are extensively produced at Galashiels and Jedburgh, but especially the former.

If you know any French, you might recognize the elements du and roi in the word: du = "of" and roi = "king". Corde du roi, "the king's cord", was either invented in English to have this meaning, or that meaning was attached to it soon after the word was coined in the 18th century. The phrase corde du roi is not known in French. In fact, a French list of manufactured articles, dating from 1807, includes "kings-cordes", apparently taken from the English word!

It was current in English by the mid-14th century, in the form taffata. Old French had taffeta and tapheta, and the Romance languages all had similar forms. The ultimate source is Persian taftah "silken cloth" OR "linen clothing". It comes from the Persian verb taftan "to shine" or "to twist, to spin".

It has its roots in a Latin words meaning "shaggy haired"! Its earliest English form was veluett or veluet (c. 1320), having entered English from medieval Latin velvetum, which came ultimately from Latin villus "hair, down". Some cognates are Italian velluto, Old French velut, and Spanish and Portuguese velludo.

Crepe de Chine:
It is literally "China crape", a white crape made from raw silk. Crape, as found in the term crape myrtle today, is increasingly being replaced by the French form crêpe, having come full circle as crape comes originally from the French form. Crêpe means "crisp" or "wrinkled", arising ultimately from Latin crispa "curled". The term crepe de chine was borrowed by English from French in the 19th century, the French having coined it to differentiate it from crêpe anglais, known in English as "simply crape". That word was originally crespe in English (mid 17th century) as in French, but by the late 17th century it was being spelled phonetically: crape.

It is a fabric made of silk or other threads interwoven with metallic threads. It gets its name from lame, which was a thin metal plate applied to the small overlapping steel plates used in old armor. Its earliest form was lamm (late 16th century) and English went back to the French form in the early 20th century. French got it from Latin lamina "thin piece or plate". English cognates are lamina and laminate.

It is named after a fairly old cognate of the English word ray. A rayon is a "ray of light", from French (1539) rayon, coming ultimately from rais "ray". It was applied to a synthetic cloth in the early 20th century, presumably because of the cloth's sheen.

It is simply a clever inversion of expand.

It is simply "many esters", an ester being not a Christian holiday, but an acid derivative. The word ester is thought to come from essig "vinegar" (acid) and äther "ether".

This word seems to arise first in the 16th century. Some believe it comes from French tiretaine (c. 1247) "a half wool, half linen cloth"

It comes ultimately from Malay ginggang "striped". It found its way to English via French guingan, from Spanish guinga and Portuguese guingão, Italian gingano, and Dutch ging(g)ang. The word first appeared in print in English in the early 17th century. Its circuitous route from Malay is an indication of the scale of trade and exploration occurring at the time.

This word has roots in Arabic. There it was qutn or qutun, and with the prefixed article it was alqoton. The Spanish took that word as alcoton, but they eventually dropped the prefix and the word became coton, although algodon is still used for specific applications (i.e., a cotton swab) . Italian and Provençal took it from Spanish (as cotone and coton, respectively), and the French took it from the Provençal form and gave it to Middle English as coton in the 14th century. The later English form cotton arose in the 16th century.

Jan 18, 2013

SPOONERISM - a type of Verbal Somersault!

Spoonerisms are words or phrases in which letters or syllables get swapped. This often happens accidentally in slips of the tongue (or tips of the slung as Spoonerisms are often affectionately called! For example:

A lack of pies (A Pack of Lies)
Wave the sails (Save the whales) 


Spoonerisms are named after the Reverend William Archibald Spooner (1844-1930) who was the Dean and Warden of New College in Oxford, England. He is reputed to have made these verbal slips frequently. He is famous for his verbal somersaults, that would turn a well - oiled bicycle into a well boiled icicle Big Grin

Born in 1844 in London, W. A. Spooner became an Anglican priest and a scholar. During a 60-year association with Oxford University, he lectured in history, philosophy, and divinity. From 1876 to 1889, he served as a Dean, and from 1903 to 1924 as Warden, or president.

Spooner was an albino, small, with a pink face, poor eyesight, and a head too large for his body. His reputation was that of a genial, kindly, hospitable man. He seems also to have been something of an absent-minded professor. He once invited a faculty member to tea "to welcome our new archaeology Fellow."
"But, sir," the man replied, "I am our new archaeology Fellow."
"Never mind," Spooner said, "Come all the same." - [ Source - reproduced from February 1995 edition of Reader's Digest Magazine.]

Reverend Spooner's tendency to get words and sounds crossed up could happen at any time, but especially when he was agitated. He reprimanded one student for "fighting a liar in the quadrangle" and another who "hissed my mystery lecture." To the latter he added in disgust, "You have tasted two worms." [ For more laughs - go here for some original spoonersaults!! ]

Spoonerisms are phrases, sentences, or words in language with swapped sounds. Usually this happens by accident, particularly if you're speaking fast. Come and wook out of the lindow is an example.

Of course, there are many millions of possible Spoonerisms, but those which are of most interest (mainly for their amusement value) are the ones in which the Spoonerism makes sense as well as the original phrase, like Go and shake a tower

Since Spoonerisms are phonetic transpositions, it is not so much the letters which are swapped as the sounds themselves. Transposing initial consonants in the speed of light gives us leed of spight which is clearly meaningless when written, but phonetically it becomes the lead of spite.

It is not restricted simply to the transposition of individual sounds; whole words or large parts of words may be swapped: to gap the bridge to bridge the gap.

SPOONERISM in Literature:
In the 1930s and 1940s, F. Chase Taylor – under his pseudonym of Colonel Stoopnagle – wrote many spoonerism fairy tales which appeared both in print and on his radio show. The original ones were printed in the Saturday Evening Post and he eventually published a collection of the stories in 1946 – a book which is now sadly out of print and much sought after.

Though if you are interested, you can enjoy them here :
Pinderella & The Cince, 
Beeping Sleauty
Ali Theeva & The Forty Babs

Some more Tairy Fales :D can be found here:
The Pea Little Thrigs
The Goldybear & The Three Locks

Rude Spoonerism

(Positively Red Face comes with a disclaimer, which everybody should please read.)

More Fun Spoonerisms
The Shog and his Dadow!

(You can try clicking on the other links too)


Wise words for Jan 18, 2013:

"Many people, other than the authors, contribute to the making of a book, from the first person who had the bright idea of alphabetic writing through the inventor of movable type to the lumberjacks who felled the trees that were pulped for its printing. It is not customary to acknowledge the trees themselves, though their commitment is total."
Forsyth and Rada, from "Machine Learning"

Nov 22, 2010

Most Expensive Books of the World - Part I: FIRST FOLIO

In a world that is becoming increasingly digitised, (what with the advent of kindle and ipad) the printed word has taken on a special value – especially if it happens to be enshrined in a rare, beautifully designed and historically significant book. People are willing to pay incredible sums of money just to own and hold a copy of one of these rare, antiquated gems.

From the first book ever to be printed, to comic books... limited editions seem to be extremely popular in the collector's market.



The first edition of Shakespeare’s plays, is widely considered to be one of the most important books in the world. Printed in folio format and containing 36 plays, it was prepared by Shakespeare's colleagues John Heminges and Henry Condell and published in 1623, about seven years after Shakespeare's death.

The Stationers Company who published the book were the booksellers Edward Blount and the father/son team of William and Isaac Jaggard.

The first folio, published in 1623 (now virtually unobtainable), is the first complete collection of Shakespeare's plays; without it, the English-speaking world would have little or no record of many of the greatest and most influential works in the Western world. Three seventeeth-century folio editions followed: The Second Folio, 1632; The Third Folio, 1663-64; The Fourth Folio, 1685.

Harold M. Otness, in his 1990 census of Shakespeare folios, explains: "The number of copies of each edition printed is lost, but speculation puts the press runs at several hundred copies each... American institutions hold at least 561 copies of the four editions combined, which may constitute as many as half of the extant copies worldwide."

The thirty-six plays of the First Folio occur in the order given below; plays that had never been published before 1623 are marked with an asterix*.

- The Tempest*
- The Two Gentlemen of Verona*
- The Merry Wives of Windsor
- Measure for Measure*
- The Comedy of Errors*
- Much Ado About Nothing
- Loves Labour Lost
- A Midsummer Nights Dream
- The Merchant of Venice
- As you Like It*
- The Taming of the Shrew*
- Alls Well That Ends Well*
- Twelfth Night*
- The Winters Tale*

- King John*
- Richard II
- Henry IV, Part 1
- Henry IV, Part 2
- Henry V
- Henry VI, Part 1*
- Henry VI, Part 2
- Henry VI, Part 3
- Richard III
- Henry VIII*

- Troilus and Cressida
- Coriolanus*
- Titus Andronicus
- Romeo and Juliet
- Timon of Athens*
- Julius Ceasar*
- Macbeth*
- Hamlet
- King Lear
- Othello
- Anthony and Cleopatra*
- Cymbeline

Performing Shakespeare using the First Folio:
Some Shakespeare directors, and theatre companies producing Shakespeare, believe that modern editions of Shakespeare's plays, which are heavily edited and changed to be more readable, remove possible actor cues in the Folio, such as capitalization, different punctuation and even the changing or removal of whole words. Today, many theatre companies and festivals producing the works of Shakespeare use the First Folio as the basis for their theatrical productions and training programs, including London's Original Shakespeare Company (founded and led by Patrick Tucker) - a theatre company which works exclusively from cue scripts drawn from the First Folio.

Modern Sales and Evaluation:

On 13 July 2006, a complete copy of the First Folio owned by Dr Williams's Library was auctioned at Sotheby's auction house. The book, which was in its original 17th century binding, sold for £2.5 million hammer price, less than Sotheby's top estimate of £3.5 million. This copy is one of only about 40 remaining complete copies (most of the existing copies are incomplete); only one other copy of the book remains in private ownership.

While, the First Folio's original price was 1 pound, the equivalent of about £95-£110 or US$190 to $220 in todays times, at present the book's value is estimated at $22.5 million.


Nov 18, 2010

The Philosophical Etymology of HOBBIT

An Overview:
On one hand it is said that many authors have foolishly and regrettably argued over the etymology of the word "HOBBIT" as originating from the variation of the two words, rabbits and hobby.

Now on the other hand there is one other man (Stan McDaniel) who argues in a serious way the case of JRR Tolkien as a very intense author who was a genius in philology (the study of language forms, relationships and transformations).

In recent decades, a number of scholars have begun to delve more seriously into the relationships between the sounds of words and the meanings of words. "Sound symbolism" or relations among sounds and meanings of certain clusters of words is something that suggests a common "symbol" or image about which the nomenclature revolves.

Anthropologist Dell H. Hymes, for example, in an article "Phonological Aspects of Style: Some English Sonnets," states

"Insistence on the arbitrary nature of the connection between sound and meaning simply cuts off inquiry into a very real aspect of speech and language."

Tolkien was familiar with how meanings and their related sounds flow in and out of one another according to subtle forces by which languages have shaped our perception of the world. It is out of these depths of understanding that the delight and wonder of his stories have evolved. As he says in one place, "Deep roots are not reached by the frost." Were The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings not so deeply rooted, they would not last as they have and as they will as long as there are books to read, eyes to read them, and hearts to beat to their songs.


The Unconscious Origin of Hobbit:
Tolkien once said of his stories that they grow "like a seed in the dark out of the leaf-mould of the mind," adding that his own personal "compost-heap" was made "largely of linguistic matter." The word hobbit came out of that inner ferment in rare moments of spontaneous intuition.

He was busy grading examination papers when the word popped into his mind, not alone but as part of a whole sentence:

In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.

Tolkien trusted his philological intuition. When a name occurred to him in this manner, he usually gave it a second look. And this case was unusual in that an entire sentence was involved, not just a single name. So, even though he had formed no idea of a story or of any of its characters, he said of the occasion, "Eventually I thought I'd better find out what hobbits were like." He would subject such names to a "severe philological scrutiny."

Tolkien's philological scrutiny of In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit turned out to be uncommonly productive. The way in which he eventually based a complex, rich, yet accessible story upon an etymological ground may be something unique in literature. Yet there are no published remarks by Tolkien about the research he must have undertaken and its relation to the story of the hobbit.


Fictional Hobbit History:
Fictionally, Tolkien characterizes himself not as author, but as translator of ancient manuscripts dating back to the Elder Days. In those manuscripts (the story goes) the word used by hobbits to refer to themselves is not hobbit at all, but kuduk, an odd-sounding expression supposed to derive from a yet older term originating in the land of Rohan and used to apply to hobbit-kind: kud-dukan, meaning "hole dweller."

Tolkien needed "English" words to translate kud-dukan and kuduk. Wishing to preserve the sense that kuduk is a "worn-down" form of kud-dukan, Tolkien first made up an "Old English" sounding word, holbytla (for hole-builder), as his "translation" of kud-dukan. Then he invented hobbit to represent a "worn-down" or modern English version of holbytla

But this is the fictional account. In order to understand just how hobbit is related to kuduk, and how Tolkien's story about hobbits is connected to philology, it is necessary to refer to a property of language which Stan McDaniel calls the eidophonetic property, or the relation between idea and sound. - Source

Read more about Eidophonetic properties and its connection to the philosophical etymology of HOBBIT, here


Wise Words for the Day: Nov 18, 2010.
"Tolkien's hobbit-stories may constitute a pivotal point in the history of science fiction and fantasy, by establishing for them more firmly than ever a base in the symbol-forming activity of human consciousness. If so, Tolkien has indeed written super science fiction. And we are only beginning to discover how super it really is. "
Stan McDaniel, from "Hobbit, The Philosophical and Literary Result."


Jan 11, 2010

Trademark Etymology

Here is a list of many words that were originally trademarks but have become ordinary words found in dictionaries. Smile Enjoy!!! and add more if you know.


  • Aqua Lung
  • Aspirin
  • Autoharp
  • Bakelite
  • Band-aid
  • Breathalyzer
  • Cellophane
  • Celluloid
  • Cornflakes
  • Cube Steak
  • Dacron
  • Deepfreeze
  • Dictaphone
  • Ditto
  • Dry Ice
  • Dumpster
  • Escalator
  • Formica
  • Frisbee
  • Granola
  • Gunk
  • Heroin
  • Jacuzzi
  • Jeep
  • Jell-O
  • Kerosene
  • Kleenex
  • Lanolin
  • Mace
  • Mimeograph
  • Moxie
  • Novocain
  • Nylon
  • Pablum
  • Phillips Screw
  • Ping-Pong
  • Plexiglas
  • Pogo-stick
  • Popsicle
  • Pyrex
  • Q-Tip
  • Rollerblade
  • Scotch Tape
  • Sheetrock
  • Stetson hat
  • Styrofoam
  • Tabloid
  • Tarmac
  • Thermos
  • Trampoline
  • Vaseline
  • Velcro
  • Windbreaker
  • Yo-Yo
  • Zipper
much love, light and laughter,

Wisdom for the Day: 11 Jan 2010

"They have a kind of insatiable perplexity, deeper than insatiable curiosity, that makes them profoundly Socratic. It's not just bookish. These folks are in love with the life of the mind."
-- Cornel West, Princeton University professor, on the Wachowski Brothers

Feb 15, 2009

Naomi Shihab Nye

Naomi Shihab Nye was born on March 12, 1952, in St. Louis, Missouri to an American mother and a Palestinian father. At the age of seven, she published her first poem, and at age 14, her family moved to Jerusalem, where she attended a year of high school. Her family then moved to San Antonio, Texas, where she lives today with her husband and son. In her writing, she draws on the voices of the Mexican-Americans that live near her, as well as the perspectives of Arab-Americans like herself and the ideas and practices of the different local subcultures of America.

Nye has gained a reputation for poetry that shows ordinary events, people and objects from a new perspective. She says, "For me the primary source of poetry has always been local life, random characters met on the streets, our own ancestry sifting down to us through small essential daily tasks" (Contemporary Authors).

After getting her B.A. from Trinity University in 1974, Naomi Shihab Nye began her career as a freelance writer, editor, and speaker. She has earned numerous awards for her writing, including four Pushcart Prizes, the Jane Addams Children's Book award, the Paterson Poetry Prize, and many notable book and best book citations from the American Library Association.

In her first collection of poetry, Different Ways to Pray, Nye explores the shared experiences and differences between cultures. She continues this focus in her second collection, Hugging the Jukebox, writing about the ordinary and the perspectives of people in other lands. Nye creates poetry from everyday scenes, celebrating the similarities between us all, as well as our diversity.

Nye's third collection of poetry, Yellow Glove, reflects a new, more mature perspective, influenced by the continuing unrest in the Middle East and the amounts of tragedy and sorrow found there. Still, she maintains an undertone of hope, realizing that facing sorrow and adversity only makes us stronger.

Besides her collections of poetry, Nye has also written children's books, music and poetry recordings, and translations of poetry. In addition, she has written a book of essays, called Never in a Hurry, and edited several poetry anthologies, including This Same Sky: A Collection of Poems from around the World, which contains some of the translated work of 129 poets from 68 different countries. In 1997, Nye published her first young adult novel, entitled Habibi, which is the autobiographical story of an Arab-American teenager who moves to Jerusalem during the 1970s.


I post my favourite from her collection...

Walk around feeling like a leaf.
you could tumble any second.
decide what to do with your time.

And I just about loved Two Countries


Works of the Author:
  • The Flag of Childhood: Poems from the Middle East (2002)
  • 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East (2002)
  • Mint Snowball (2001)
  • Come with Me (2000)
  • How To Undress a Cop (with Sarah Cortez) (2000)
  • What Have You Lost? (1999)
  • Fuel (1998)
  • The Space between Our Footsteps: Poems and Paintings from the Middle East (1998)
  • Lullaby Raft (1997)
  • Habibi (1996)
  • Never in a Hurry (1996)
  • Benito's Dream Bottle (1995)
  • Words under the Words: Selected Poems (1995)
  • Red Suitcase (1994)
  • Sitti's Secrets (1994)
  • Mint (1991)
  • Invisible (1987)
  • Yellow Glove (1986)
  • Hugging the Jukebox (1982)
  • Different Ways to Pray (1980)

Naomi Shihab Nye in her own words


Wise Words of the Day: Feb 15 2009.

"Freedom is a heavy load, a great and strange burden for the spirit to undertake. It is not easy. It is not a gift given, but a choice made, and the choice may be a hard one. The road goes upward towards the light; but the laden traveler may never reach the end of it."
-- Ursula K Le Guin, from "A Tomb of Atuan"


Jan 2, 2009

Nananyah's Tongue Twisters

Time to have some fun, frolic and faughter, fith funny fung fwisters.... fafafafa! While there are many original tongue twisters in the English Language everywhere on the net, and also in our childhood memories, this topic is essentially about tongue twisters that I constructed myself as part of fun competition on quoteland.com

Right from Amitabh Bacchhan's Kaccha Papad, Pakka Papad, to the very staid Betty who bought some butter to make the bitter butter better, we remember all of them so well. So here's my small tribute to all those yester year fung fwisfers... try saying them for fun!

- Sally sucks seashells so she should sleep supinely.
- Swinging Sherry sat sideways so she surely sang sugary songs.
- Quake Quotient: Quiet quills quiver quite quickly!
- Five flamingos flew flamboyantly fearing from fifty-five freezing furry fuzzie friends.
- One old ominous octopus ozonised outrageously, on odourless ovaries of otters over oxygenated oceans.
- Blimey, Barney!! Bearded Babcock banged bartender Bobby's blue bathtub by blunt blows.
- Moot moments made Magic Merlin marry Miss Merry Muffingbone making meaner morons mad.
- Real red roses rise rather remarkably round Rutherford Road resembling really restful realm.
- Prego!
Pathetic Paula pricked purple papers passionately, putting placid paper pins pressed properly perpendicular.

- Clever Carla comfortably clad, captivated crouching Carlos' coldly claustrophobic close cousins creatively.
Ghastly gargoyles get gobsmacked gathering green gurgling gremlins going garrulously ga-ga.
Chirpy children chucking chocolate charmingly, checked choked chequered cheques chattering cheekily.
Prickly Priscilla, pressed prime prizes primly pasted, past popular propogated pride.
Melissa's midnight melodies muttered magically mellow, merely meant most mother's meet many more mean, morose madmen, monthly. Much multiplied madness! Big Grin

I absolutely adore the last one.

Jan 2, 2009 - Wise Words of the Day.

On That Side, beyond the clouds,
The mountain is blue-green as jade
The white clouds on the mountain
Are whiter than white
From the spring on the mountain,
Drop after drop
Who knows how to see the face
In the white clouds?
Clear skies and rain have their times,
They’re like lightening
Who knows how to listen to the
Sound of this spring?
It flows on without stopping
Through thousands
And thousands of turns
The moment before thought is
Already wrong
To try to say anything further
Is embarrassing.
-- T’aego (1301-1382)

Jan 1, 2009

Fairy Tale Aphorisms

Aphorism: –noun
a terse saying embodying a general truth, or astute observation, as “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely” (Lord Acton).

1520–30; F aphorisme < LL aphorismus < Gk aphorismós definition, equiv. to aphor[ízein) to define [see aphorize ) + -ismos -ism

There exists a tradition of reducing well‐known tales to short aphorisms of a few lines, in addition to the number of literary adaptations of fairy tales in the form of prose works, poems and plays. These aphorisms are connected to Fairy Tales in general or to specific tales/folklores and their individual motifs. These connections can be found not only among the aphorisms of highly acclaimed authors but also among anonymous one liners of modern graffitis. They represent remnants of the original fairy tales and can be categorised into fairy Tale Aphorisms, which for the most part question the traditional nature of the traditional versions. Most often than not, power, crime, violence, selfishness, greed, materialism, sex and hedonism are the subjects of these aphorisms.

Frog King
- You have to kiss a lot of toads (frogs), before you meet your handsome prince.
- Better one night with a prince than a whole life with a frog.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs:
- Better once with Snow White than seven times with the dwarfs.
- Did you know that Snow White had no rest on any day of the week?
- I used to be Snow White … but I drifted
- Seven hills don't make a mountain and seven dwarfs don't make a prince.

- I'm not Cinderella. I can't force my foot into the glass slipper.
- Better blood in the shoe than a prince around the neck.
- When I was nine I played the demon king in Cinderella and it launched me on a long and happy life of being a monster.
- There is no Cinderella, and I'm not her Prince.

Little Red Riding Hood:
- All good things come in threes, said the wolf and took the huntsman as his dessert.

Emperor's New Clothes:
- It is not always a question of the Emperor having no clothes on. Sometimes it is, "Is that an Emperor at all?" (Idries Shah)
- I keep the dreams and the illusion. You keep the tinderbox and the emperor's new clothes.
- He is only telling the truths that should be plain and obvious to everyone. And yet, the whole world conspires to deny them.

Ugly Duckling:
- Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation. (Oscar Wilde)
- The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes. (Marcel Proust)
- She showed me to the mirror with a flourish as if I were the ugly duckling about to see myself as the swan.


Will update as and when I find more. Smile

Dec 31, 2008

People Etymology

Here are a few words in the English language that have been named for people. This list consists of widely-used words which are obviously named after specific people. You'll be surprised to find words like, bloomer, maudlin, namby-pamby, tarmac and tawdry having their origins in men and women of yesteryears. Smile Enjoy!!!

oh! and add on more if you know, in comments.

  • ALDRIN Kurt Alder (1902-1958), American chemist

  • ALGORITHM al-Khowarizmi (c800 - c850), Arab mathematician. This term, which means "rules for computing" in English, comes from al-Khowarizmi (Try saying it fast), an Arab mathematician living around A.D. 825 who completed the earliest known work in arithmetic using Arabic numerals. He was the first to establish rules for adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing with the new Arabic numerals.

  • AUGUST Augustus Caesar (63 B.C. - A. D. 14)

  • BAKELITE Leo Hendrik Baekeland (1863-1944), Belgian-born American chemist

  • BÉCHAMEL SAUCE Marquis Louis de Béchamel (d.1703), steward of Louis XIV of France

  • BEEF STROGANOFF Count Pavel Alexandrovich Stroganoff (1772-1817), Russian diplomat

  • BEGONIA Michel Bégon (1638-1710), French patron of botany

  • BLOODY MARY Mary I Tudor (1516-1558), English queen (probably)

  • BLOOMER Amanda Bloomer or Amelia Jenkins Bloomer (1818-1894), American feminist

  • BOUGAINVILLEA Louis Antoine de Bougainville (1729-1811), French explorer

  • BOYCOTT Charles C. Boycott (1832-1897), English land agent

  • BOYSENBERRY Rudolph Boysen, American botanist

  • BUHLWORK A. C. Boule (1642-1732), French cabinet maker

  • BUNKUM, BUNK Col. Edward Buncombe, Revolutionary War hero, This word actually comes from the name of Buncombe County, North Carolina; the county was named in honor of Col. Edward Buncombe, a Revolutionary War hero. The word originated after the congressman from that county defended an irrelevant speech in Congress by claiming that he was speaking to Buncombe.

  • BUNSEN BURNER Robert Wilhelm Bunsen (1811-99), German chemist

  • CAESAREAN SECTION Gaius Julius Caesar, who according to legend was born in this manner

  • CAESAR SALAD Cesar Cardini, Tijuana, Mexico restaurateur

  • CAMELLIA George Josef Kamel (1661-1706), Moravian Jesuit missionary

  • CARDIGAN James Thomas Brudnell, 7th Earl of Cardigan (1797-1868), British cavalry officer

  • CASANOVA Giovanni Jacopo Casanova de Seingalt (1725-98), Italian adventurer

  • DAHLIA Anders Dahl (1751-1789), Swedish botanist

  • DECIBEL Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922)

  • DERBY Edward Stanley, 12th earl of Derby, founded the race, 1870

  • DIESEL Rudolf Diesel (1858-1913), German automotive designer

  • DOBERMAN PINSCHER Ludwig Dobermann, 19th century German dog breeder

  • DOILY Mr. Doyley, a 17th century London draper

  • DOLOMITE Deodat de Dolomieu (1750-1801), French geologist

  • DRACONIAN Draco, Athenian lawgiver, circa 650 B. C.

  • DUNCE John Duns Scotus (c. 1265-1308), Scottish theologian (who was actually very smart)

  • EGGS BENEDICT Commodore E. C. Benedict (1834-1920), American yachtsman and banker

  • EPICURE Epicurus (342?-270 B. C.), Greek philosopher

  • EUSTACHIAN TUBE Bartolommeo Eustachio (1524-1574), Italian anatomist

  • FALLOPIAN TUBE Gabriel Fallopius (1523-1562), Italian anatomist

  • FERRIS WHEEL George Washington Gale Ferris (1859-96), American engineer

  • FRANGIPANI Marquis Frangipani, 16th century Italian nobleman

  • FREESIA Friedrich Heinrich Theodor Freese (d. 1876), German physician

  • FRISBEE William Russell Frisbie, pie shop owner in Bridgeport CT

  • FUCHSIA Leonard Fuchs (1501-1566), German botanist

  • GALVANIZE Luigi Galvani (1739-1798), Italian physiologist

  • GARDENIA Alexander Garden (1730-91), Scottish-American botanist

  • GARIBALDI Giuseppe Garibaldi (1807-82), Italian patriot and soldier

  • GREENGAGE Sir William Gage (1777-1864), English botanist

  • GROG Old Grog, nickname of Sir Edward Vernon (1684-1757), British admiral

  • GUILLOTINE Joseph Ignace Guillotin (1738-1814), French physician

  • GUPPY Robert J. L. Guppy (1836-1916), British scientist from Trinidad

  • GUY Guy Fawkes (1570-1606), British terrorist

  • HANSOM Joseph Aloysius Hansom (1803-82), English architect

  • HAVELOCK Sir Henry Havelock (1795-1857), British general in India

  • HOBSON’S CHOICE Thomas Hobson (1544-1631), English liveryman

  • JACQUARD Joseph Marie Jacquard, 18th cent. French inventor

  • JACUZZI Roy Jacuzzi and Candido Jacuzzi (1903-1986), American inventors

  • JEROBOAM Jeroboam, first king of the northern kingdom of Israel

  • JULY Gaius Julius Caesar (c. 101 - 44 B. C.)

  • KLIEG LIGHT John H. (1869-1959) and Anton T. Kleigl (1872-1927), American lighting experts

  • KNICKERBOCKERS Dietrich Knickerbocker, pseudonym of Washington Irving (1783-1859), American author

  • LEOTARD Jules Léotard (1839-70), French acrobat

  • LEVIS Levi Strauss (1830-1902), Bavarian immigrant to the USA and clothing merchant

  • LOBELIA Matthias de Lobel (1538-1616), Flemish botanist and physician

  • LOBSTER NEWBURG Ben Wenberg According to Dictionary of Words and Phrases by William and Mary Morris, the term is named for Ben Wenberg, a West Indies ship captain who came up with this dish by adding the ingredient cayenne to his famous recipe at Delmonico's Hotel. As the story goes, Mr. Wenberg had a falling out with the hotel owner, who, as revenge, reversed the first three letters of a dish which had previously been called Lobster Wenberg; hence, "Lobster Newberg."

  • LOGANBERRY Judge James H. Logan (1841-1928), horticulturist in California

  • LUDDITE Ned Ludd, 18th cent. Leicestershire workman who destroyed machinery (see note below)

  • LYNCH Capt. William Lynch (1742-1820), plantation owner in Virginia

  • MACADAMIA NUT John Macadam (1827-1865), Australian scientist

  • MACH Ernst Mach (1838-1916), Austrian physicist

  • MACKINTOSH Charles Macintosh (1766-1843), inventor of the waterproofing process

  • MAGNOLIA Pierre Magnol (1638-1715), French botanist

  • MANSARD François Mansart (1598-1666), French architect

  • MARIGOLD Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus

  • MASOCHISM Leopold von Sacher-Masoch (1836-1895), Austrian novelist

  • MAUDLIN Mary Magdalene, Biblical figure

  • MAUSOLEUM Mausolus, 4th century B. C. king of Caria, Asia Minor

  • MAVERICK Samuel Augustus Maverick (1803-1870), Texas cattle owner

  • MELBA TOAST and PEACH MELBA Dame Nellie Melba (1861-1931), Australian soprano

  • MENNONITE Menno Simons (1492-1559), Dutch religious reformer

  • MESMERIZE Franz Anton Mesmer (1734-1815), Austrian physician
  • MORSE CODE Samuel Finley Breese Morse (1791-1872), American artist and inventor

  • NAMBY-PAMBY Nickname of Ambrose Philips (1674-1749), English poet

  • NICOTINE Jean Nicot (c. 1530 - 1600), French ambassador to Portugal

  • OSCAR Oscar Pierce, American wheat and fruit grower and uncle of an Academy executive director

  • PAP SMEAR George Papanicolaou (1883-1962), American physician

  • PASTEURISE Louis Pasteur (1822-1895), French chemist

  • PAVLOVA Anna Pavlova (1881-1931), Russian ballerina

  • PLATONIC Plato (c. 427-347 BC), Greek philosopher

  • POINSETTIA Joel Roberts Poinsett (1779-1851), U. S. minister to Mexico

  • PRALINE César de Choiseul, Count Plessis-Praslin (1598-1675), French soldier and diplomat

  • PULLMAN George Mortimer Pullman (1831-97), American inventor

  • PYRRHIC Pyrrus (c. 318 - 272 B. C.), king of Epirus, who overextended himself

  • QUISLING Maj. Vidkun Abraham Quisling (1887-1945), pro-Nazi Norwegian leader

  • RASTAFARIAN Ras Tafari, precoronation name of Haile Selassie (1892-1975), Emperor of Ethiopia

  • RICKETTSIA Howard T. Ricketts (1871-1910), American pathologist

  • RORSCHACH TEST Hermann Rorschach (1884-1922), Swiss psychiatrist

  • RITZY César Ritz (1850-1918), Swiss hotelier

  • SADISM Count Donatien Alphonse François de Sade (1740-1814), French soldier and novelist

  • SALISBURY STEAK James J. Salisbury, 19th century English physician

  • SALMONELLA Daniel Elmer Salmon (1850-1914), American veterinarian

  • SANDWICH John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich (1718-92), English diplomat

  • SAXOPHONE Antoine-Joseph Sax, also known as Adolphe Sax (1814-1894), Belgian inventor

  • SEQUOIA Sequoya (c. 1770-1843), Cherokee Indian who invented the Cherokee syllabary

  • SHRAPNEL Henry Shrapnel (1761-1842), British army officer

  • SIDEBURNS Gen. Ambrose Everett Burnside (1824-1881), Union soldier

  • SILHOUETTE Etienne de Silhouette (1709-1767), French minister of finance in 1759

  • SPOONERISM Rev. William Archibald Spooner (1844-1930), of New College, Oxford

  • SOUSAPHONE John Phillip Sousa (1854-1932), American composer and bandleader

  • STETSON John Bauerson Stetson (1830-1906), American hat-maker

  • TARMAC John Loudon McAdam (1756-1836), Scottish engineer (the word is short for "tarmacadam")

  • TAWDRY St. Audrey (St. Etheldreda, c. 630 - 679), queen of Northumbria

  • TEDDY BEAR Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919), U. S. president

  • TETRAZZINI Luisa Tetrazzini (1874-1940), Italian opera singer

  • THESPIAN Thespis, 6th century B. C. Greek poet

  • TIMOTHY GRASS Timothy Hanson, 18th century American farmer (probably)

  • TOMMY GUN Gen. John Taliaferro Thompson (1860-1940), U. S. soldier

  • TONTINE Lorenzo Tonti (1620-1695), Neopolitan banker

  • TUPPERWARE Earl Silas Tupper (1907-1983), American landscaper and inventor

  • UZI Uziel Gal (1923-2002), Israeli inventor

  • VALENTINE Valentine, 3rd century Christian martyr

  • VERNIER Pierre Vernier (1580-1637), French mathematician

  • WELLINGTON BOOT Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington (1769-1852), British soldier and statesman

  • WISTERIA Caspar Wistar (1761-1818), American physician

  • ZEPPELIN Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin (1838-1917), German general and aeronautical pioneer

  • ZINNIA Johann Gottfried Zinn (1727-1759), German botanist

  • Dec 31, 2008 - Wise Words for the Day
    " He drew a circle that shut me out
    heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
    But love and I had the wit to win,
    we drew a circle that took him in."

    --- Edwin Markham, Outwitted

    Dec 24, 2008

    "Tom Swifties" - a development in Wellerism.

    Wellerism is an expression of comparison comprising a usually well-known quotation followed by a facetious sequel. Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable defines Wellerism thusly:

    Sam Weller in Charles Dickens' "Pickwick Papers" (1836-7) was prone to producing punning sentences such as:

    'Out with it, as the father said to the child when he swallowed a farden [farthing]'.

    This type of verbal play, involving a metaphorical and a punningly literal sense, soon gained popularity under the name of wellerism, and a craze for devising such expressions rapidly sprang up on both sides of the Atlantic. A crude example familiar to children is:

    'I see, said the blind man, when he couldn't see at all.'


    "'It all comes back to me now', said the Captain as he spat into the wind."


    Tom Swifty :
    A Tom Swifty is a Wellerism in which an adverb relates both properly and punningly to a sentence of reported speech. For example:
    "The doctor had to remove my left ventricle," said Tom half-heartedly.
    explaination: half-heartedly = half of a heart. [A heart is composed of a left and right ventricle] Hence the above sentence is a "Tom Swifty".
    "Your Honour, you're crazy!" said Tom judgementally.
    explaination: judge (= your honour) + mental (= crazy) + ly.


    Etymology of Tom Swifty:
    The quip takes its name from Tom Swift, a boy's adventure hero created by the prolific American writer Edward L. Stratemeyer. Under the pseudonym Victor Appleton, he published a series of books featuring the young Tom Swift. Tom Swift rarely passed a remark without a qualifying adverb as "Tom added eagerly" or "Tom said jokingly". The play on words discussed here arose as a pastiche of this, coming to be known by the term Tom Swifty.


    In a true Tom Swifty, it is an adverb (word specifying the mode of action of the verb) that provides the pun, as in the following example:
    "I swallowed some of the glass from that broken window," Tom said painfully.
    explaination: pain (like 'pane' = window glass) + full (= full stomach) + y.


    But frequently the pun occurs in the verb, and there may not be an adverb at all. Strictly speaking such puns are not Tom Swifties, but they are generally included in the term. For example:
    "My garden needs another layer of mulch," Tom repeated.
    explaination: re (= again / another) + peat (= mulch) + ed.


    And sometimes it is neither a verb, nor an adverb, but a short phrase (usually acting like an adverb in modifying the verb) For example:
    "I've only enough carpet for the hall and landing," said Tom with a blank stare.
    explaination: blank (= uncovered) + stare (like 'stair' = staircase).


    Traditionally Tom is the speaker, but this is by no means necessary for the pun to classify as a Tom Swifty. Sometimes the pun lies in the name, in which case it will usually not be Tom speaking. For example:
    "I'm going to end it all," Sue sighed.
    explaination: Sue sighed (like 'suicide' = to kill oneself).


    Many – probably most – Tom Swifties are morphological; i.e. the words must be broken down into morphemes (smaller components) to understand the pun. This is true for many of the examples on this page, and is illustrated particularly well by this example :
    "This is the real male goose," said Tom producing the propaganda.
    explaination: propa (like 'proper' = real) + ganda (like 'gander' = male goose).


    Often the adverb (or whatever) has a homonym (a word which is pronounced, and perhaps spelled, the same, but has a different meaning) which leads to the punning meaning of the sentence. For example :
    "I have a split personality," said Tom, being frank.
    explaination: frank (= open, man's name).

    Dec 24, 2008 - Wise Words For the Day

    Empty-handed I entered the world
    barefoot I leave it.
    My coming, my going-
    Two simple happenings
    That got entangled.
    -- Kozan Ichikyo.