"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."

Saturday, 28 April 2012


   To diss is to disrespect;  to treat, mention, or speak to rudely. It is a slang word, chiefly US, that came from, and therefore shares the same definition as "to disrepect";  to treat (someone) with contempt. 

The City of Dis - sketch by Boticelli

Dis with one ‘s’ refers to the city of Dis, from Dante's levels of hell. The city of Dis is the level of hell to which all non-believers, who have not otherwise sinned greatly, will go.

Friday, 27 April 2012


A midden is a a dunghill or refuse heap; this is also an archeological term for a mound or deposit containing shells, animal bones, and other refuse that indicates the site of a human settlement.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Velocipedes and Quadricycles

A velocipede was an early form of bicycle propelled by working pedals on cranks fitted to the front axle; now used as an archaic term for a bicycle.

 An American Sawyer velocipipede from 1855

 The term was coined by Frenchman Nicéphore Niépcee in 1818 to describe his version of the Laufmqschine, which was invented by the German Karl Drais in 1817. The term "velocipede" is today, however, mainly used as a collective term for the different forerunners of the monowheel, unicycle, bicycle, tricucle, and quadricycle developed between 1817 and 1880.

In 1896 Henry Ford introduced his Ford Quadricycle - and engine driven vehicle, no longer requiring the driver to pedal.

Saturday, 7 April 2012


No - not the footballer and pronounces peel!

A pele or pele tower is a small fortified keeps or tower houses, ususlly built along the borders in the Scottish Marches and North of England.  They were principally intended as watch towers where signal fires could be lit by the garrison to warn of approaching danger. By an Act of Parliament in 1455, each of these towers was required to have an iron basket on its summit and a smoke or fire signal, for day or night use, ready at hand.

Thursday, 5 April 2012


   Mordacious is an adjective meaning using biting sarcasm, caustic wit or invective.  It can also mean given to actual biting (both in a person or animal).