Incredible – ‘Not in the heart’

Incredible: Impossible to believe. The word is a combination of ‘in’ meaning ‘not’ and ‘credible’ meaning ‘to be believed’, in its literal sense the word means ‘not to be believed’. It was in the early 15th century when it began to be used to mean ‘surpassing belief. ‘Credible’ comes from the Latin ‘credibilis’. It is…

Cake – ‘ball like’

Cake: A sweet dessert. Surprisingly, ‘cake’ hasn’t always meant cake. It used to mean ‘loaf of bread’ up until around the 1500s. I can’t help but wonder if that suggests there were lucky people who ate cake with every meal or unlucky people who had bread as a birthday treat. The word came to English…

Newfangled – ‘Grasping at modernity’

Newfangled: Of a new kind of fashion It’s bounced around quite flippantly, but I find ‘newfangled’ a troubling term, what were the old fangles even like? The term ‘newfangled’ is, in fact, not so new; it’s actually been with us since the 14th century, though then it referred to ‘a person who was fond of…

Secular – Latin ‘Of the age’

Secular: The state of being separate from religion. The word joined English from French, the word in French being ‘seculer’, which came from the Latin word ‘saecularis’ which meant ‘of the age’ (specifically of the current 100 year period). It was a reaction to the Christian idea that God existed outside of time, and was…

Punctuation – From the Latin ‘to prick’

Punctuation: The use of spacing, conventional signs, and certain typographical devices as aids to the understanding and the correct reading. Punctuation is very important in the English language, but where does the word ‘punctuate’ come from? The first recorded usage that we have is from the 1530s, where it was used to describe the punctuation…