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’. Advertisements

Virgin – ‘Unmarried woman’

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 in the Latin (around 400CE) word ‘virgo’…

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’…

Pyjamas – ‘Loose trousers’

Pyjamas: loose fitting bed clothing. Pyjamas have their origins in British colonialism, this is a word the English took from other languages rather than the other way around (as is usually the case). The word is originally Persian, and comes from the word ‘paejamah’, which meant ‘loose fitting leg clothing’ those lucky Persians wore pyjamas…

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…