Sustainable – Able to hold on

Sustainability – To be able to continue. The first references we have in this sense is from 1965, when the idea of ‘environmental sustainability’ began to be understood. Before that, it was used ‘sustainability’ to only mean ‘bearable’ and in this sense, it originated in 1845, combining the word ‘sustain’ and the common English suffix…

Research – To really, really wonder about

Research – to find out about something. The first record we have of the use of the word ‘research’ is from 1577, the word comes from the French word ‘recherche’ which meant ‘to seek’. It combined the Latin ‘re-‘ which was used for emphasising, with the French ‘cherche’ meaning ‘to search’. ‘Cherche’ comes from the…

Unsavoury – ‘Not tasty’

Unsavoury – disagreeable and unpleasant, or morally disreputable. Unsavoury is a word used to describe people since the 14th century, and unpleasant food since the 13th century. It combines ‘un’, old English meaning ‘not’, and ‘savoury’ from old French ‘savore’, which was in itself from the Latin ‘sapōrō’ meaning ‘taste’.

Rhinoceros – ‘horn nose’

Rhinoceros – A large, heavily built plant-eating mammal with one or two horns on the nose and thick folded skin. The rhinoceros gets its name from Greek, who called the animals ‘rhinokeros’, combining ‘rhinos’ meaning nose, and ‘keros’ meaning ‘horn’.

Virgin – ‘Unmarried woman’

Virgin: Someone who has never had sex. The word virgin has changed quite a lot over time, it got its current meaning in the 1300s but during the 1200s was used to mean ‘someone devoted to the church’. It came to English from French during the anglo-french period, the French word being ‘virgine’. It originated…

Inflammable – Latin ‘into being on fire’

Inflammable: Easily set on fire. The word comes from the Latin word ‘inflammare’ which meant ‘to set on fire’. It was actually the Romans who are to blame for the confusing applications of the prefix ‘in-‘ to mean ‘not’ and ‘into’ (as it in this context), which causes confusion in with many words. The ‘flammare’…