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Should you at any point need a word for an utterly ineffectual person in a position of power (ahem...), then we have just the word for you. They’re a King Log.  

That expression first popped up on Twitter way back in the summer of 2018. But as ineffectual leadership yet again appears to be the b...

Here’s an odd one from the HH archives: if you’re oedipodic, then you have swollen feet. 

If you’re curious to know whether there’s any connection there to the Greek tragic hero Oedipus, then you’re waaaay ahead of us. 

According to legend, Oedipus (he of the patricidal/matriphilic Oedipus complex) wa...

15 Apr 2019

The word pactolian cropped up on HH this week, defined as an adjective describing anywhere covered in golden sands. 

The word pactolian name-checks the Pactolus, an ancient river of Asia Minor that flows into the Aegean Sea in what is now modern-day Turkey. According to legend, the sands that line th...

23 Aug 2018

Today’s Word of the Day over on Haggard Hawks needs—well, a little bit more explaining. 

So a Spartan boy is, proverbially, someone who keeps a secret and suffers as a result. But how? Or rather, why?

Sparta was one of the smallest but most powerful of Ancient Greek city-states, and much of that...

22 Jul 2018

A brilliantly useful little word popped up on HH this afternoon:

And it has an intriguing story behind it. 

Thersitical derives from Thersites, the name of a minor character mentioned largely in passing in Homer’s Iliad—and known by the fairly grim epithet of “the ugliest man who came to Troy”.


English has picked up more than a few Latin phrases over the years. And a long-overlooked but no less intriguing one popped up on HH today. 

A mutato nomine, then, is a story or anecdote that can be reused or reapplied, so long as all the names of everyone and everything involved are altered. 


This curious etymological fact popped up on HH today: 

It’s a curious one, alright. And it’s not a particularly explainable one either. 

What we do know is that English picked up the word pedant sometime in the mid sixteenth century, either from French or Italian, and began using it (as the French and...

Popular on HH this week was the story behind the word halcyon, and the expression halcyon days. As we explained over on Twitter, halcyon literally means “kingfisher”, although etymologically it’s thought to combine two Greek elements: hals, meaning “sea” or “saltwater”, and kyon, meaning “...

Most popular on HH this week was the fact that the shape of a Pringle crisp (or chip, should you be so inclined) is a hyperbolic paraboloid:

 There’ll no doubt be lots of interesting facts about paraboloids, but mathematics isn’t the HH game BECAUSE MATHS. But we can at...

This year’s is the 23rd Winter Olympics. It’s also meant to be the coldest Olympiad on record (when the snowboarding gets underway on Friday, the competitors will be spiralling through –16º C air). And, what’s more, it gives HH the chance to dust off some of our long-forgotten Olympic vocabular...

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10 Jun 2019

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