Word of the Day #36: Donner and Blitzen

A few days ago, one of my students asked where the eight tiny reindeer got their names.  I knew there were some German names in there, but beyond that, I was not sure.  So, I went looking. The reindeer first show up in a poem by Clement C. Moore.  Mr. Moore wrote A...

English is dangerous

I don’t feel like posting a word today. So, here is one of my all-time favorite jokes about the English language. Maybe. I can’t tell if it’s a joke or if it’s true. The Japanese eat very little fat And suffer fewer heart attacks than...

Word of the Day #35: Ballyhoo

Ballyhoo: to advertise noisily; to publicize using extreme, loud methods The marketers ballyhooed the movie, but it flopped on opening day.  Ballyhoo shows up in English in the early 1900s.  It was originally a circus word.  A ballyhoo was a sideshow used to lure...

Word of the Day #34: Argumentum ad Baculum

A student recently posted this question in the forums: In Chapter four of Lingua Latina, a new word is “baculum”, meaning “stick”. In the world of logic, there is a fallacy, called Ad Baculum. I am assuming that these are related. Does it mean, “to the stick”? Here is...

Word of the Day #33: Kibitzer

Kibitzer: someone who offers unwanted advice; someone who offers unsolicited opinions  Kibitzer is a Yiddish word.  Originally, a kibitzer described someone looking over your shoulder during a card game, offering unwelcome advice.   These days, a kibitzer is an...

Word of the Day #32: Gardyloo

If you are throwing things out of your window today, consider first shouting “Gardyloo!” Gardyloo is a warning shout. Back in the old days, when pots were emptied into the streets, the one pouring whatever they were pouring into the streets would warn...