Hey y’all! In honor of my comfort read mystery book that I posted about yesterday (Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead, by the way!) I’m doing a word origin post on vampire today. And I can’t believe I never thought of this before, to be honest, because it had quite a lot to dig into and learn!
Origins of “vampire”
When did it first get used? 1732, in French
What does it mean? a “spectral being in a human body who maintains semblance of life by leaving the grave at night to suck the warm blood of the living as they sleep”
Or if you want to get a little loose with it, “night-walking, blood-gorged, plague-spreading undead corpses”
I’ve become a Wordle convert after months of resisting the baffling squares being shared by everyone on my social media feeds. One of my friends today played the word “ditto” which made me think of it outside the context of children being snotty or Pokemon for maybe the first time ever. I mean… ditto? That’s a real word? Is it just me or does it seem like a word that adults don’t use? An unprofessional word?
So… what does it mean, technically? Could I defend my usage of it in a meeting or should I probably pass that one on by in favor of “I concur?”
Origins of “ditto”
When did it first get used? 1620s, in Italian! Specifically the Tuscan dialect. Go you!
What does it mean? modern day meaning is “what they said” or “same here” kind of mentality. Agreeing with a previous statement or sentiment
Originally, it was “in the month of the same name” which is… weird and specific and kind of confusing?
It’s friggin’ hot here, and while it’s usually hot in late July, this has been excessively hot for the area. Heat warnings galore! My puppy is spending about ten minutes outside and most, then coming inside to slurp a gallon of water and pass out on the cool tile floor for a few hours. I’m not far behind.
So today’s word is “summer,” and let me tell ya: I thought this would be a boring AF word to search but the results told a different story. Who knew?!
Origins of “summer”
When did it first get used? 1300s, but it had other points of innovation all the way up through 1941!
What does it mean? Hot season of the year. In Old Norse, that was starting on the first Thursday between April 9 and April 15, which is weirdly specific and very sensible for Norwegians way up in the north, I guess.
What did it come from? The word summer itself is so old that the roots I found were basically just looking at all the other words in old languages that also meant summer, which wasn’t really helpful. But I did learn a lot of other little things related to summer that were fascinating! Such as:
Hey y’all! It’s been a while since I did one of these, but I was poking around on an etymology site again and was curious to see that orchid was listed as the top trending word. I have no idea why, but I figured, why not see what orchids are all about? Basically all I know is that it’s a big fancy flower that people seem to think is hard to take care of but then also say “just put an ice cube in it once a week” so I’m not sure what to think.
Origins of “orchid”
When did it first get used? 1845
What does it mean? The Latin name for a plant family, technically called Orchideæ or Orchidaceæ, the latter of which sounds like a dope ass rogue name I would use for a poisoner.
What did it come from? As John Lindley was publishing the third edition of School Botany, he decided to give the schoolchildren something sneaky to giggle about — and maybe himself, as well. And so he named his favorite group of plants Orchid. The word comes from Greek orkhis, which is a very crucial and respectable word. What does it mean? Well…
Hey y’all! I promise I haven’t been up to anything shady, but blackmail has been on my mind. This is one of those words where I wonder what degree of literal it ever accomplished. Was it at some point actually black?
I’m imagining an elegant black envelope with a formal seal on it, where just the sight alone would terrify the postmaster delivering it for knowledge of the grim contents inside! And the shame of receiving one, for who would be blackmailed if they were a holy and upstanding citizen? The secret they carry is bad enough for another to extort them!
Origins of “blackmail”
When did it first get used? 1550s
What does it mean? Currently, this is demanding payment or another benefit from someone in return for not revealing compromising or damaging information about them.
In the past, though, it was more like protection money from thugs and ruffians. Today’s meaning has some elegance and effort: I search and listen and carefully find some secret information that another may not want to be public knowledge, then quietly tell them I KNOW and demand money to keep the secret.
Hey y’all! I got to clicking around in the many pages of etymological history of all the words in English, and it of course led me to a delightful little discovery. ^.^
Origins of “ain’t”
When did it first get used? 1706
What does it mean? a contraction meaning “is not,” “have not,” “are not,” basically a pretty flexible little word
What did it come from? This one is kind of simple, as it more or less logically followed the rules of other contractions. I am becomes I’m, can not becomes can’t, and is not became ain’t, probably because “int” is an awkward sound to make and link to other sounds in the sentence.
My favorite part of this work is that it was perfectly acceptable in proper English for quite a while. The thing that tipped the word into disfavor is when ain’t was used largely in Cockney dialect in writing, such as from Dickens around the 1850s. Once people hear the way those caricatured characters sounded saying it, they ditched it ASAP. Ain’t fell into the pits of the uncouth and uncultured.
And was dramatically resurrected by humorists and hooligans galore!
Or at least that’s my preferred depiction, since ain’t is still pretty popular where I’m from. It’s not something I would normally say, but I might use it to make a point or for dramatic effect. Here are a few notable uses of ain’t even after it’s been -ahem- disbarred from proper English.
Hey y’all! In contrast to Throwback Thursdays, I like to use Fridays to look forward to an upcoming release that I’m excited about! And although I haven’t posted a Fast Forward Friday actually on a Friday in a few weeks, I’m still excited enough to post these books because I cannot let them go unnoticed! Today’s is especially one I’ve been looking forward to for months, and it’s finally almost here: Love in English by Maria E Andreu! Expected Release: February 2, 2021
Why wait on this one?
I’m always in for stories of immigration and moving and characters who have to learn a new culture and/or figure out how to preserve their own. Ana moving from Argentina to New Jersey sounds like it will be ripe for those exact kinds of struggles. The kind where you learn a lot about yourself and the world (in a way that’s way less cheesy than I just made it sound).
Add in a focus on language and I’m even more in. Ana is a poet, and what poet isn’t a lover of language, with the attention to every facet that a poem requires? I’m really hoping we’ll see some beautiful portions of her poems in her native language, Spanish. And maybe that will blend with English, and maybe it won’t — either way, I’m happy to explore the world of words.
Ah, and of course, young love! I love love, y’all. Last night I had a dream about falling in love at first with my boyfriend all over again. I’m really into it. So when Ana gets to feel some feelings for a cute Greek boy, and a cute stereotypical-all-American boy, I’ll be riding right along with some popcorn. 🥰
Sixteen-year-old Ana has just moved to New Jersey from Argentina for her Junior year of high school. She’s a poet and a lover of language—except that now, she can barely understand what’s going on around her, let alone find the words to express how she feels in the language she’s expected to speak.
All Ana wants to do is go home—until she meets Harrison, the very cute, very American boy in her math class. And then there’s her new friend Neo, the Greek boy she’s partnered up with in ESL class, who she bonds with over the 80s teen movies they are assigned to watch for class (but later keep watching together for fun), and Altagracia, her artistic and Instagram-fabulous friend, who thankfully is fluent in Spanish and able to help her settle into American high school.
But is it possible that she’s becoming too American—as her father accuses—and what does it mean when her feelings for Harrison and Neo start to change? Ana will spend her year learning that the rules of English may be confounding, but there are no rules when it comes to love.
When did it first get used? 1200s as Old English “merewif” 1350ish as Middle English “meremayde”
What does it mean? a fabled creature that has the top form of a woman and the bottom form of a fish; often causing harm to mortals whether intentionally or not; often magical or with supernatural qualities, as with a siren
Hey y’all, I’ve been thinking about the origins of words, yet again! This time, it was stemmed from my brother, Nick. As a child (and, let’s be real, still now as an adult) I was positively delighted that my brother Nicholas had the ultimate nickname, because he was literally Nick! That was as good as it got in my mind. But it also made me wonder, on the other hand, how anyone could have a Nick-name that wasn’t Nick. What kind of sense is that?
Today, I’ve resolved this puzzling mystery that’s plagued me all my life. 🕵️♀️
Origins of “nickname”
When did it first get used? Mid 1400s as a noun, as a verb in the 1530s
What does it mean? literally “a second name,” also a familiar name. Interestingly, it’s also in particular to reference a derisive or insulting nickname
Today’s word origin post comes after seeing that Alex Trebek, the quintessential host of Jeopardy!, has a book out! For me and many others, he’s a wholesome delight who’s been around for many years. Representing all corners of knowledge, it really sucked to hear he’s been diagnosed with severe pancreatic cancer. It sucks a little less to see that he has a book out, and I can learn more about him than just in his role as host. It also made me think about how weird the word jeopardy is, and what it actually means. I would guess something related to knowledge or facts, since the show by that title is a quiz show of all kinds of information. But then there’s also the phrase “double jeopardy” in law, meaning you cannot be tried for the same crime twice. How do they connect??
Origins of jeopardy
When did it first get used? late 1300s, but variations and very similar forms have been used since the tenth century!!
What does it mean? 1. a danger or risk 2. a cunning plan 3. a lost game, or a game with even chances
What did it come from? This stems from old French jeu parti — jeu meaning a game, and parti meaning divided. So in terms of Jeopardy! the quiz game show, it seems that the intent is to show it’s a game where anyone can succeed. Luck is not required because it’s all based on your own knowledge and what you know. I’m not sure that makes perfect sense, but I’ll let it go.