By Phil Cousineau
To untangle the knot of interlocking meanings of those painted phrases, logophile and mythologist Phil Cousineau starts off each one attention-grabbing notice access along with his personal short definition. He then fills it in with a tint of etymology and a smattering of fees that exhibit how the be aware is used, finishing with a listing of better half phrases. The phrases themselves diversity from usual — like biscuit, a twice-baked cake for Roman infantrymen — to loanwords together with chaparral, from the Basque shepherds who got here to the yank West; phrases from myths, reminiscent of hector; metamorphosis phrases, like silly, which developed holy to goofy in an insignificant thousand years; and phrases good necessary of revival, resembling carrytale, a wandering storyteller. even if old-fangled or fresh, the entire phrases incorporated in The Painted Word own an ineffable caliber that makes them luminous.
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Extra resources for The Painted Word: A Treasure Chest of Remarkable Words and Their Origins
For Margaret Ernst, it is an example of a word metamorphosis, changing from cheat to charm. ” To beguile is to be full of guile, to delude with deceit, to trick with cleverness. The Old Frisian roots dig down into wigila, sorcery, witchcraft. ” So what happened was what we might call a wordflip, like a backflip, but with words. ” President Lincoln, in his famous Civil War–era letter to Mrs. ” BILLABONG (AUSTRALIAN) A streambed that fills with water during the rainy season in the Australian outback.
From the Dutch a-loef, luff, to steer into the wind to avoid danger and away from the shore. ” Companion words include apart, chilly, cold fish, which is what you get if you stay too long in your drifting boat and don’t come ashore. ALPHABET A standard set of letters used in a language. The Concise Oxford Dictionary adds in succinct fashion that this is the “first rudiments” of language. Scholars have determined that about fifty-six different alphabets are still in use around the world. The most common is ours, the Latin one, that derives from the clever decision to use alpha and beta, the first two letters of the Greek alphabet, which had already come from the first two letters of the Phoenician alphabet, meaning ox and house, respectively.
Companion words include arabesque, a musical ornament, dating to 1864, and one of its most luminous illustrations, Debussy’s Arabesques. ARGUS-EYED Extraordinarily vigilant, alert, awake. According to Ovid, the hundred-eyed guardian Argus, also called Panoptes, or “All-eyes,” was commanded by Hera to guard the nymph Io, after she caught her husband Zeus in flagrante delicto with her. Outraged, Hera humiliated Io by turning her into a cow, which prompted the outraged Zeus to command Hermes to slay Argus.