In the Midwest, the dandelions have already gone to seed, their fluff floating across the areas where a week earlier the flowers stood tall and bright and yellow, like lions with perfectly arranged manes. Dandy lions. Are there traces of lion or dandy in the dandelion’s name? Yes and no.
Admittedly, it takes very little to make me excited about vocab, but every once in a while something truly interesting pops up to remind me just how much I love the richness that can be found in a single word. Today, that something was the announcement of a photo contest on Merriam-Webster's website.
There’s something diverting about getting food before you get your meal. But that’s exactly what appetizers are. Of course, in many restaurants in the U.S. today, the appetizers menu includes dishes that will satisfy your hunger, not just stimulate your appetite. Unless you’re sharing with a large group, many of today’s appetizers can’t really be considered appetizers at all. Which got me thinking about appetizers of the past.
May 1 is May Day, an ancient European and North American celebration of, well, quite a lot of things, including flowers, warm weather, and, in some countries, workers and the labor movement. Infoplease has a nice summary of the holidays that are observed on May 1, and Wordnik has an interesting read on May Day–related words.
Perhaps today’s abdication of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, February’s unexpected resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, or the many undergraduate hours spent reading European history have skewed my understanding of the word abdication. I was surprised to learn recently that it was not originally associated with royalty or political office.
Have you properly marveled at how many words of Shakespeare (whose birthday we celebrated this week) are now a part of your everyday English? It’s not just household words that the Bard contributed; he also coined a number of common phrases.
Vocabulary comes to those who let their minds meander. Fighting a recent bout of early spring dankness, my mind went from contemplating a favorite movie to making a nonsense rhyme even more nonsensical to examining poiesis and noesis.
In “Singin In the Rain,” this delightful bit of poetic nonsense is delivered by Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor (see video clip below):