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22 Aug 2018

Today’s Word of the Day on HH is a good one: if you’re flagitious, then you’re guilty of atrocious crimes.  

Dating back to the Middle English period in English (but rarely used since the nineteenth century), flagitious derives via French from its Latin equivalent, flagitiosus. That word in turn...

27 Jul 2018

We inevitably stray into history every so often here on Haggard Hawks, and this week was no exception. The Roman statesman Cicero earned his second HH shout out today (spoiler alert: here’s the first) over on our new Instagram channel, thanks to a bizarre fact about the origin of his name:

Marcus Tul...

26 Jul 2018

Undoubtedly one of the most interesting etymological stories out there popped up on the HH Instagram today: the fact that mediocre literally means “halfway up a mountain”.

How and why? Well, at the root of the word mediocre is the Latin ocris, meaning “a jagged or sharp-edged mountain”. Through...

24 Jul 2018

Another word for a tortoiseshell cat popped up on HH recently:

So here’s a bit more about it. 

By “a bit,” unfortunately I mean, “not very much.” Because as grand as that word is, its history is somewhat muddy. As a name for a tortoiseshell, it appears to have fallen into use by the nineteenth century...

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. 


Today’s Word of the Day over on Twitter is, er, quite something... 

Two things about that word that need pointing out. First, it’s a fairly nonsensical, nonstandard term. (But then you’d probably already guessed that.) 

Coined by the poet Robert Southey in 1834, sinequanonniness has seemingly never be...

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...

Seemingly, there is a species of moth native to Venezuela, the taxonomic name of which is Eubetia bigauli—or “you betcha, by golly”. 

For the uninitiated in the world of taxonomic nomenclatural wordplay (a minority, surely), here’s a quick brief. 

Every species in the world has a two-part sc...

18 May 2018

Popular on HH this week was the rare verb intermicate, meaning “to shine between”.

That’s a word that dates back to the mid seventeenth century in English; it was first recorded in Glossographia, a 1656 dictionary compiled by the early English lexicographer Thomas Blount.

The word itself has Latin r...

18 Apr 2018

File this one away for later use: oneirodynia is a disturbed night’s sleep caused by nightmares. 

That’s a term from psychology that first appeared in English in an 1800 dictionary of nosology (the science of diseases), defined as “inflamed or disturbed imagination during sleep.”

Before then, there’s...

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10 Jun 2019

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