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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...

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...

17 Jan 2018

If you follow HH on Instagram, you might have spotted this fact earlier this week: the “–wall” of Cornwall and the “wal–” of walnut are the same: both derive ultimately from an Old English word, wealh, that essentially meant “stranger”, “foreigner”, or more specifically, “Celt”. 

In the case of ...

12 Jan 2018

Over on the new HH Instagram feed last week was the fact that a moment was once precisely defined as 1/40th of an hour—or exactly 90 seconds. This is a subject that’s popped up on HH before (and if you have The Accidental Dictionary—now available in the States!—then you’ll already know this story)....

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