"That's a great deal to make one word mean," Alice said in a thoughtful tone. "When I make a word do a lot of work like that," said Humpty Dumpty, "I always pay it extra."

Monday, 31 May 2010


Zircon (including hyacinth or yellow zircon) is a mineral belonging to the group of nesosilicates. Its chemical name is zirconium silicate and its corresponding chemical formula is ZrSiO4. Zircon is a mineral, occurring in tetragonal crystals, yielding brilliant clear gemstones called "cubic zircons" or "cubic zirconia". A cheap alternative to diamond.

Sunday, 30 May 2010


 A catena is a chain of connected ideas or passages or objects so arranged that each member is closely related to the preceding and following members.  

Saturday, 29 May 2010


 The ocarina is an egg-shaped terra cotta wind instrument with a mouthpiece and finger holes; A woodwind musical instrument that is closed at both sides to produce an enclosed space, and punctured with finger holes.  

Wednesday, 26 May 2010


Encephalalgia simply menas a headache but it would sound better when you phone in sick! Which reminds me of the Doctor who used to write Plumbum vibrans on sick notes - meaning 'Swinging the lead!

To swing the lead means to malinger. It is said to come from the days when the job of testing the depth of water under a ship was done by raising and lowering a lead on a line. A lazy leadsman would take his time about the process - swinging the lead.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010


Locavore is one of those new words coined to describe a modern trend. It means someone who, for environmental reasons, endeavours to restrict their shopping and consuming habits to items produced locally. It remains to be seen if the word survives for very long.

Monday, 24 May 2010


Anabiosis is a form of suspended animation; usually applied to organisms during periods of extreme drought from which they revive when moisture returns.

Sunday, 23 May 2010


Afflatus sounds like some sort of digestive problem but it isn't! It means a strong creative impulse; divine inspiration.

Saturday, 22 May 2010


To abjure means to renounce or retract something under oath; formally reject or disavow a formerly held belief, often under pressure.

Friday, 21 May 2010


Hodge was a familair and condescending name for a farm labourer, peasant or rustic. it dates back at least to the 16th Century and was still in use in the early 20th century. It is possibly an abbreviated form of the name Roger.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Hobble Skirt

 Hobble Skirts were one of the more ridiculous of fashions, being dresses or  skirts that were tight around the lower legs and ankles thereby impeding walking. They were at their height in 1912 and gone by 1914.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010


  Gibbous means bulging: something that bulges out or is protuberant or projects from its surroundings. The word is usually used in connection with the moon and refers to a phase of the moon between first quarter and full or between full and last quarter.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010


   The pittancer was an officer of a religious house / monastery who had the duty of distributing charitable gifts or allowances of food.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Getting the hang of it

The phrase 'getting the hang of it', meaning to find the knack of doing something, seems to date from around the 1820s. It is said to originate with public executions where a poor executioner would leave a [person hanging for ages while they strangled to death. A good executioner (who had got the hang of it) would drop the victim in such a way that their neck broke, making a quick and clean job of it. (Well, perhaps not clean but we won't go into that...)

Sunday, 16 May 2010


A carrack (also knowmn as a nau) was a large galleon sailed in the Mediterranean as a merchantman; a three- or four-masted sailing ship developed in the Atlantic Ocean in the 15th century by the Portuguese

Friday, 14 May 2010


   Harem means forbidden to outsiders. A harem is living quarters reserved for wives and concubines and female relatives in a Muslim household; the private part of an Arab household. In traditional Arab culture, this part of the household was forbidden to male strangers;

"In every family home lay a region that was harem, forbidden to outsiders."


Plangent means having a loud, mournful sound; loud and resounding (of bells); or sounding like waves breaking on the shore.

Thursday, 13 May 2010


   Borek is a confection made of layers of honeyed pastry; a type of baked or fried filled pastry, from Turkey , made of a thin flaky dough known as yufka (or phyllo), and can be filled with cheese, often feta, sirene or kaşar, minced meat, or vegetables.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010


  Arrhythmic means lacking a steady rhythm; An irregular heartbeat; beating too fast, too slow or irregularly.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010


An emporium is a shop that offers a wide variety of goods, often used facetiously; a department store; a market place or trading centre, particularly of an ancient city.

Monday, 10 May 2010


A seraglio is a harem; living quarters reserved for wives and concubines and female relatives in a Muslim household.  

Sunday, 9 May 2010


Iznikware is a type of pottery made in Turkey in the 16th and 17th centuries. For further details see Britannica.com.

Saturday, 8 May 2010


Execrable means deplorable; of very poor quality or condition; abominable; unequivocally detestable.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Nuts in May

The children’s rhyme ‘Here we go gathering nuts in May...’ often evinces the comment that nuts are found in the Autumn, not in May. However, the origins appear quite simple – the phrase was initially ‘Here we go gathering knots of May.’ A knot – as in a small garland or posy of flowers; and May as in the alternative name for the Hawthorn Blossom which was gathered as part of the May Day celebrations.