Phrase – Cut to the quick

Cut to the quick, meaning to offend deeply. The saying is a metaphor, the idea that someone has cut so deeply, they are cutting at life itself, and here’s why. ‘Quick’ is actually from the old English ‘cwic’ which meant ‘alive’. ‘Cwic’ came to English with the Anglo-Saxons and was a variant of the Proto-Germanic…

Disaster: Bad stars

Disaster; a serious disruption of the functioning of a community, came to English via old French where it was ‘désastre’, which is basically the same word with a bit of an accent.  It got to French from Italy via the Roman empire, the Latin word was ‘disastro’ which in turn was from the Greek word…

Pie – Magpie like

Pie – A baked dish of fruit, meat or vegetables, enclosed in pastry. A recent trend to call a dish with only a top made out of pastry, covering food within a serving dish, has been seen amongst gastropubs in the UK but, as @pieswithsides and others have pointed out, this does not fit within…

Italics – Italianish

Italics, sloping style letters, usually used to give emphasis, was introduced in 1501 by Aldus Manutius, an Italian printer, who printed an edition of Virgil using the sloping style letters, he dedicated the edition to Italy and those who used the style after, called it ‘Italic’.

Girl – child

Girl is a word which has been in English since middle English, where it meant a child of either sex, it got to English from the German word ‘gor’ which meant child too. Whilst we’re on the subject, pink used to be a colour for all children around 100 years ago and dresses were worn…

Whisky – water of life

Whisky is a contraction of the word ‘whiskybae’ used in English in around the 18th century, which combined the two old Irish words: ‘uisce’ meaning water and ‘bethu’ meaning ‘life’, so literally, the meaning is ‘Water of life’.

Clue – Ball of yarn

Clue, meaning guide to the solution of a mystery, is a variant of the word ‘clew’ from Early modern English, in around the 1500s. ‘Clew’ meant ‘ball of yarn’. Its use in the modern day is a reference to the ball of yarn that Theseus used to find his way out of the labyrinth in…