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A great little expression turned up on the HH Twitter feed today:

So here’s a little bit more about it. 

Thanks to their instantly recognisable call (as well as their, errr, somewhat questionable parenting techniques), cuckoos have made themselves conspicuous enough to become subject to all kinds of f...

11 Jan 2017

Towards the end of 2016, we asked you all to vote for our very first Word of the Year. After a year of tragic losses, Brexit shenanigans, political mendacity and trumpery, we narrowed things down to a shortlist of just five words.

Epicedium, whipmegmorum, cacafuego and toad-eater all fell at the fin...

2 Aug 2016

 “It says, ‘You may have been missold PPI’.” (Image credit: The Atlantic)

If you’ve been keeping up with the HH YouTube series, you’ll so far have found out about 280 of the 500 words we’re going to look at this year. But this week, we’re turning things around. 

So from hypernyms and hyponyms to...

11 May 2016

(Image credit: Wikipedia 

A few weeks ago over on the HH YouTube channel, we looked at the origins of 10 city names, covering everywhere from Chicago (“a place to grow wild onions”) to Funafuti, the capital of Tuvalu (“banana-woman”).

One city that didn’t make the final cut was the largest city in t...

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...

11 Aug 2015

Crikey, get a room, you two (Wikipedia Commons

A few days ago, HH tweeted that a toad-eater is “someone who backs up a liar or helps propagate a lie”.

And, well, it’s all just a little too bizarre to leave unexplained... 

There’s an old language myth that claims toad-eater comes from the Spanish...

15 Jul 2015

(Image credit: Shorpy) 

Last week, we tweeted this:

It’s a great word, and given its meaning it seems plausible that it should have a much more familiar etymological cousin:

A nice idea—but unfortunately the two are unrelated. Hoolybuss is an old Cornish word, dating back to the eighteenth century...

17 Mar 2015

 Look up the origin of the word limerick and there’s a good chance you’ll be pointed in the direction of the the English poet Edward Lear. Best known for writing The Owl and The Pussycat, in 1846 Lear published an aptly titled Book of Nonsense:

There was an Old Man who said,...

28 Feb 2015

There’s an old story that claims the word handicap derives from wounded soldiers returning home from war with injuries preventing them from returning to their day jobs, and leaving them with no option other than to beg on the streets, their caps literally held in their hands to catch the pennies of...

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