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15 Jul 2018

Some words are so beautiful they stop you in your tracks. Case in point, one of this week’s most popular HH words, the adjective verdazurine—describing anything sea-green in colour. 

First recorded in English in the late 1600s, verdazurine probably has its direct origins in either one of its Italian,...

17 Nov 2016

So last week it was teddies, this week it’s bears...

One subject we tend to hold back from mentioning on HH is confusing and confusable words. That’s largely because doing so tends to open up not so much a can of worms, but a more a shipping container of worms.

Can you, for instance, use literally to...

7 Aug 2016

A little while ago, this fact cropped up on the HH Twitter feed:

It ended up sparking quite a debate about whether carpet actually did have a rhyme, with everything from trumpet to market thrown into the mix. But, no. Seriously. Nothing rhymes with carpet. And nor does nothing, fo...

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...

27 May 2016

Earlier today, this peculiar etymological twist cropped up on the HH Twitter feed:

And so here’s a bit more about it.

Although nowadays auburn refers to red hair, the word itself is rooted in the Latin word albus, meaning “white”. That’s also where the word albinism comes from, as well as...

27 Apr 2016

You might have seen this frankly brilliant fact pop up over on the Twitter feed this week:

Poor old penguins. It can’t be much fun humpling around in sub-zero temperatures avoiding being eaten by seals all day. But then along comes Oliver Goldsmith—whose seven-volume History of the Earth an...

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