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26 Apr 2019

The French phrase après moi, le déluge is used in English to express a lack of concern for what happens after you’ve gone. And given all the #ExtinctionRebellion climate change protests that have been going on in London these past few weeks, it’s perhaps no surprise that this expression did the roun...

15 Apr 2019

The Monte Carlo fallacy cropped up on HH this week, defined as “the misguided belief that because something has happened less frequently than might be expected, it is now more likely to occur”.

Over on Twitter, we gave the example of a flipped coin: imagine a coin is tossed 10 times in a row, and eve...

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...

28 Aug 2018

Here’s one for all you failed DIYers out there. When you go to hit a nail with a hammer, and the hammer strikes the wood around the nail leaving a circular dint, that impression is called a Dutch rose

Why? Well, there’s some history here...

Both England and the Netherlands are great seafaring nation...

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”.

Accordi...

19 May 2018

The fact that the French word for “duck”, canard, can be used in English to mean “a deliberate falsehood or rumour” proved popular on HH this week. And as we mentioned over on Twitter, at the root of that fact is an old French idiomatic expression, bailler un canard à moitié—“to sell...

The fact that the name Scandinavia began life as a spelling error propagated by Pliny the Elder proved popular over on the HH Instagram page this week: 

Scandinavia was originally “Scadinavia”, but Pliny (seemingly mistakenly) added a second N in the first century AD. The popularity and inf...

30 Mar 2018

If you’re following HH on Instagram, you’ll have found out this week that there’s a town in northeast France simply called Y:

Y stands around 30 miles east of Amiens in the Somme department of Hauts-de-France in northern France. Its name, incidentally, is pronounced as a short “ee”, not as the F...

12 Jan 2018

Here in the UK, a major headline this week was that Nigel Farage—formerly of the UK Independence Party, and a principal voice in the Brexit campaign to leave the European Union—had after much deliberation decided that a second EU referendum might be a good idea after all. The reasonin...

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