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24 Oct 2017

Most popular on HH this week was the fact that a charette is a period of intense work carried out in order to hit a deadline.

No experience of that here at all, of course. Nope. None whatsoever. HH is always totally well organised and days—nay, weeks ahead of schedule. 

Moving on... As some of y...

One of last month’s HH Words of the Day—the adjective rocambolesque, defined as “too fanciful or extraordinary to believe”—ended up proving very popular on Twitter:

So here’s a bit more about it.

Rocambolesque (pronounced “ro-cam-buh-lesk”) derives from Rocambole (pronounced “rock-um-bole”), the name...

11 Jun 2017

Ah, I love Blackpool. (Picture credit: Wix) 

The curious term boulevard-journalist cropped up on HH this week, defined as “an unscrupulous or exploitative journalist or hack writer”. 

That definition was taken from JR Ware’s Passing English of the Victorian Era, a retrospective dictionary of...

14 May 2017

A popular tweet this week on HH was the word Alsatia, defined as “a place without laws or inhabited solely by criminals”. 

Alsatia is the Latin name for Alsace on the French-German border. Once an independent state, the Thirty Years War from 1618–48 saw Alsace’s population decimated and its...

15 Feb 2017

The word mamamhouchi popped up on our Twitter feed the other day, defined as “someone who believes themselves to be more important than they really are.” 

It totally sounds like a totally made up word—for the very good reason that it is.

The French playwright Molière invented it, seemingly at random,...

23 Jul 2016

Originally posted here, this etymological story is now one of 100 that can be found in the new HH book, The Accidental Dictionary.

Looking back through the HH archives the other day, we spotted this:

So the name Pont Neuf is a misnomer—it really doesn’t (or, at least, it no longer) fits the bridge in...

18 Sep 2015

This week over on @HaggardHawks, this intriguing little fact popped up: 

As a couple of diligent followers pointed out, yes, we’re only talking about English here. And yes, Q is also entirely absent from all 118 names. And, in case you’re wondering, there are Zs in zinc and zircon...

25 Jun 2015

So. The other day, we tweeted this: 

It’s another one of those “seriously?” words:

HH make something up? The very idea of it. Well, there was that one time, but that was entirely different. No—seriously, this is true. And not only that, but there’s a brilliant story behind it.

Smellfungus dates back to...

6 Jun 2015

Today marks the seventy-first anniversary of the Normandy Landings—perhaps better known as D-Day. Etymologically, there’s a longstanding myth that the D of D-Day stands for something along the lines of “disembarkation”, “decision”, or “deployment”, or even “Deutschland” or “Doomsday”, but in fact:...

10 Apr 2015

We tweeted about toilets a lot today. Purely by coincidence, of course. But you know how it is—once you’ve done one, it’s hard not to do another. Though one of the things we’ve tweeted probably needs a little bit more explaining:

So, first things first: Titus Flavius Vespasian became Roman Emperor in...

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