Friday, April 24, 2009

Tickle me with vernacular

I am fascinated by language and in the past have written a couple posts about it. My enthrallment with the origins of verbal communication is boundless and the process of how words were created boggles my mind.

I mean think about it. Were two cavemen walking along when one picks up a round heavy object and says, “Let’s call this a rock.” How did all the other cavemen (and women) know that decision had been made?

I’m sure there was a natural progression and I suppose I really need to do more research. But for now I continue with my fancy of the vernacular, the lexicon, idioms and more.

There is a fun Web site dedicated to phrases and their origins. You can even sign up for "Phrase of the Week." Below I’ve stuck in a bit of the quiz found on the site. Check it out and see how much you know.

'Umbrage' was first
A type of medicine
A town in the west of England
A shady area

'Woe is me' was first used in

Chaucer's Canterbury Tales
Shakespeare's Hamlet
The Bible

'Humble pie' was
The first meal served to monks after Christmas
A variant of 'umble pie', i.e. a pie made from innards
Named after the Victorian stable keeper James Humble

'A cock and bull story' originated
In France, with the term cock a l'ane, meaning fanciful story
From cock fighting terminology
At the Cock and Bull coaching inns in Buckinghamshire

'Rack and ruin' derives from
The names of the two jesters at the court of Henry VIII
A variant of 'wreck and ruin'
A reference to sunken ships, which became covered with bladderack seaweed

'Currying favour' derives from
A variant of 'carrying favour'
The name of a mythical French horse
The flavouring of curry

'Run Amuk' comes from
The Old English for 'run a mile'
The Norse word 'runeamic' meaning pillage
The Malayan word 'amok', meaning frenzy

'The green-eyed monster', referring to jealousy comes from

One of the seven deadly sins
Shakespeare's Othello
Thomas Hardy's Far From the Madding Crowd
The Incredible Hulk

'Namby Pamby' was
A nursery rhyme character
A soft cheese
A parodying name for the poet Ambrose Philips

'Left in the lurch' comes from
The French card game lourche
A bride left jilted at the church's lych gate
Left for dead at the side of the road
The name of a prison cell in the Tower of London

You can find the answers to the above by clicking here.

What’s your favorite phrase?


Gail said...


Anonymous said...

I share your passion, but I love the unspoken word even more. It is amazing what can be conveyed in the words that aren't said.

Lori E said...

Okay I have one new word for you.
Vomitory, yes it is a real word. Drop by my site and see how I came across this word.

Kathleen said...

Ah, Pyzahn, you are such a smart one. You have one amazing mind to come up with such questions. The quiz reminds me of playing the dictionary game, only a whole lot sassier. I have to go with run amuk, because that's how my life feels at the moment.

SpookyRach said...

I love words, too. Isn't it satisfying to find EXACTLY the right word to convey what we mean?

Gotta go find out the answers to this....

Rudee said...

I love language too. I can't find a favorite phrase though-I love them all, along with the explanations. Very clever.