Xylophone – Soundwood

Xylophone – Musical instrument consisting of various blocks producing varying tones. The word was first coined to describe the a instrument in 1866, combining the Greek words ‘xylon’ meaning ‘wood’ and ‘phone’ meaning ‘sound’. The words were no longer in use so they must have thought ‘soundwood’ didn’t have the right ring to it. Advertisements

Babe – Infant babble

Babe – An attractive person. It’s a weird thing to compare a person to an infant as a way recognise that they are attractive isn’t it? The word ‘babe’ or ‘baby’ is usually used affectionately or to mean that the speaker finds the subject attractive. The word ‘babe’ was first used only to refer to…

​X-rays – Mystery rays

X-rays – A part of the electromagnetic spectrum, with wavelengths shorter than visible light. X-rays were named by the scientist who discovered them in 1895, Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen, although he was actually German so he named them ‘X-strahlen’ with ‘strahlen’ meaning ‘rays’. The ‘X’ was borrowed from algebra where it is used to represent an…

Brand new – Hot off the forge

Brand new – To be utterly new. This term dates back to 1570, new manufacturimg methods were enabling better and more comes items to be made of metsl. A ‘firebrand’ was a term for a heated forging tool used in manufacturing. As such, when items were newly forged, they would be refered to as ‘brand…

Cabbage – Latin for ‘head’

Cabbage – A dark green, or pruple, leafy vegetable. The word came to English with many French words in around 600CE, the French word was ‘caboche’ (pronounced as ‘cabbage’) meaning ‘head’ and oringally from the latin ‘caput’ which meant the same thing. The Roman’s thought the vegetables were reminisant of a human head.

Pottering around – Poking around

Pottering around – To engage in gentle activities, in an almost aimless manner. I had thought this must have something to do with pottery but it turns out to be from the old English word ‘potian’ meaning ‘to poke’ so it’s really ‘to poke around’. The first reference to it being used in its current…

Phrase – Pushing the envelope

Pushing the envelope – The phrase is used to describe going beyond known limits, especially in aerospace related activities. This originates in mathematics; the term envolope describing the area under the line on a graph depicting limits – in this way, anything within the ‘envelope’ is within the limits. The term ‘flight envelope’ was first…