The Bottom Line: Quick facts about words!
The Full Story:
Here are some fun facts on words and their origins!
- “Squirrel” comes from the Greek word skiouros, literally meaning “shadow-tail.”
- The adjective “awkward” is based on the Old Norse afugr, meaning “turned the wrong way around”. In this sense, it could be applied, for instance, to an animal that was on its back and was unable to get up.
- According to OED research, an “x” was first used to represent a kiss in a 1763 letter from Naturalist Gilbert White.
- Have you ever been told not to run in corridors? Well, “corridor” evolved from Latin currere “to run” and actually means “running place”. The modern sense of “a long passage in a building” dates from the early 19th century.
- “Sarcasm” comes from the Greek sarkazein, which means “to tear flesh.”
- “Clue” originally meant “a ball of thread”. Its current meaning came via the idea of thread being used to guide somebody out of a maze.
- The word “computer” has been used to refer to a person since 1613, to a machine since 1869, and to an electronic device since 1946.