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15 May 2018

What do the words musk, avocado and orchid all have in common? This week, we found out that they all come from words meaning “testicle”.

How did all that happen? Well, let’s play ball.

Musk comes to us via French, Latin, Greek and, earlier still, Persian—but before of all that, it derives ultimately...

10 May 2018

The problem with using this blog to discuss the most popular words from the HH Twitter feed is that there’s no way of predicting—or, rather, policing—precisely what that fact will be. Case in point: this week’s top tweet was one explaining that especially lumpy porridge can also be known as lumpy-di...

One of the strangest etymologies we’ve featured for a while popped up on HH this week: ganache, that rich chocolatey mixture used to top cakes, takes its name from a French word for an empty-headed fool—which in turn takes its name from an even older French word for the bottom jaw of a horse. S...

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 ...

10 Jul 2017

 Gourd almighty: Pumpkinified pumpkins (Image credit: Pixabay) 

The word pumpkinify popped up on HH last week, and ended the week as one of the most popular: 

A handful of words along these lines—including pumpkinify, pumpkinification, and pumpkinifier—have been in use in English since the e...

21 May 2017

“Right that’s me sorted, what are you having?” (Picture credit: Wix) 

The word barm cropped up on HH this week, defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as “the froth or head of beer when poured out.”

The more usual meaning of barm, however, is the thick, yeasty froth that forms on top of malt liquors...

28 Sep 2016

(Image credit: Wikipedia) 

This week on the HH YouTube channel, we looked at the origins and meanings of 10 complimentary words—including nods to handsome criminals, Ancient Greek courtesans, and a man who lived in a barrel.

But another term that we could have included on this list popped up on the HH...

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...

6 Jul 2016

(Image credit: Wikipedia 

It seems we’re always late to the party here at HH. Yes, it was July 4 last Monday but, hey—what can you do? 

So. A very belated Happy Independence Day to anyone reading this over in the States, and in honour (or rather honor) of your celebrations, this week on the HH...

7 Oct 2015

The word cocktail is a bit of an etymological puzzle: originally only used as a nickname for an animal that rears up when irritated, by the late 1700s it had become another word for a horse with a “cocked” or shortened tail. How it then made the leap to alcoholic mixed drinks in the 1800s is, howeve...

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10 Jun 2019

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