A few intriguing items for you this week: eavesdropping on writers, reading writers’ minds, invisible nautical terms brought to light, and the thrilling conclusion to a mystery. Plus, an intriguing bonus item ...
As we have determined before, the language of love is either 70 percent French or, if chocolate is your love language, 100 percent Nahuatl. Since a one-word list makes for a poor word game, we’re going with the French.
Unscramble the following words to form 14 love-related words that made their way into English from or through French. [Hint: all words appear in the language of love post]
February 6, 1937, John Steinbeck published Of Mice and Men. Although it wasn’t his first successful published work, this novella of migrant field workers during the Great Depression garnered national attention and paved the way to a Pulitzer Prize win for The Grapes of Wrath two years later. Steinbeck went on to publish 27 books, including novels, short story collections, and nonfiction. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1962.
Etymatching Steinbeck: Match the Steinbeck-title word with its appropriate etymology snippet.
Five hundred and twenty-two years ago today, January 9, 1493, Christopher Columbus insulted merfolk everywhere by observing that the mermaids he saw off the coast of the Dominican Republic were "not half as beautiful as they are painted" [History.com; see also "Oh no he did not"]. If he had looked more closely, perhaps Columbus would have noticed that these mermaids were missing more than just half their beauty.
What do Mark Twain, Virginia Woolf, Niccolo Machiavelli, and Don Quixote all have in common? Each has been described in print as possessing "an aquiline nose." Many readers might translate the word aquiline into something akin to "beak-like," but the word is more specific than that. Aquiline means "of, like, or pertaining to an eagle."
Our Christmas tree is always a blue spruce that we keep in a box in the basement when we’re not using it. Pine allergies keep us from the ritual of driving to a farm or nearby tree lot to find the perfect tree. This has kept me from receiving a proper education on the differences between pine, spruce and fir.
In my mind, they are all pine trees because they have pine needles. Spruce, fir, and pine are all of the Pinaceae family. But pines are of the pinus genus; the genus for fir is abies; and for spruce it’s picea.
I have already confessed to loving ridiculous new words. But, like every other editor I know, my word sensibilities can’t always keep pace with the changing language. Emerging new usage often makes me squint. Overwhelm as a noun? Onboard as a transitive verb? I’m just not ready to onboard people to my methods of managing the overwhelm.*
It’s a bit late for this election season, but canvass is the act of seeking votes and canvas is a strong cloth, as used in sails or for a canvas bag. The double s version derives from the single s, in a roundabout way.
This month marks 50 years since President Johnson signed the Wilderness Act, establishing a “National Wilderness Preservation System for the permanent good of the whole people, and for other purposes” (Public Law 88-577 [PDF]).