Antithesis: To put against

Antithesis: something which is the opposite of the subject. It was first used in the 1530s where it described, particularly, the opposition of something in rhetoric. It comes from the Greek ‘antitithenai’ which was made up of two parts; ‘anti’ meaning ‘against’ and ‘tithenai’ which meant ‘to put’ or ‘to place’, so effectively ‘antithesis’ means…

Maniac and Maniacal; frenzied heteronyms

Maniac and maniacal are ‘grammatical form heteronyms’ – meaning the main part of the word changes its pronunciation in different grammatical forms but keep the same meaning. Maniac means: a person exhibiting extremely violent behavior. And has its roots in the early 16th-century word ‘mania’ which comes from the Greek ‘maniakos’ meaning ‘madness’ or ‘frenzy’.…

Aspire: From the Latin for ‘To Breathe’

The words aspire and inspire both have very similar meanings, of course one is to give someone the urge to do something and the other is to be urged to do something but how do words relate? And what’s it got to do with spires? Aspire is come from the Latin word ‘aspirare’, which meant…

Maroon – The chestnuts or the slaves?

Maroon is a homophone (a word with two different meanings), one being the reddish-brown colour, the other being to leave someone on an island. I love these little language quirks and whenever I come across them I can’t help but wonder if the two words have evolved separately or if they both come from the…