I – Lazy ‘Ich’

I – Used by a speaker to refer to himself or herself. ‘I’ is such a common word, we use it all the time to refer to ourselves, but why ‘I’? The word is a shortening of a 12th Century word ‘Ic’ and came from the Proto-Germanic word ‘Ek’ – as did the modern German…

Bumblebee – Buzzing hummer

Bumblebee – A large hairy social bee which flies with a loud hum, living in small colonies in holes underground. The word actually used to be ‘humbul-be’ but became bumblebee in the late 14th century due to an association with the ‘buzzing’ noise they make. ‘Humbul-be’ was used formally because the noise was commonly described…

Explain – To unfold

Explain – To make (an idea or situation) clear to someone by describing it in more detail or revealing relevant facts. This word dates back to the early 15th century and has its origins in the Latin word ‘explanare’ which meant the same thing. ‘Explanere’ actually combined two other words; ‘ex’ meaning ‘out’ and ‘planus’…

Leeway – A margin of error for ships

Leeway – The amount of freedom to move or act that is available. This word was originally (circa 1660) a shipping term, ‘lee-way’ referred to sideways drift from a course caused by the wind. It meant that extra time / fuel needed to be planned in to make allowances for the wind. Now it refers…

Suppose – To lay an idea down as foundation for further thought

Suppose – To assume The word ‘suppose’ comes from the Old French word ‘suposer’ and joined our language in the early 14th Century. Originally the word comes from the Latin ‘supponere’ which combined ‘sub’ meaning under, with ‘ponere’ meaning ‘put’. The phrase essentially means ‘to lay an idea down as foundation for further thought’.

Right as rain – Straight as rainfall

Right as rain – To be in good health. This expression relies on a use of the word ‘right’ which is rarely used these days – this meaning being ‘straight’. The expression was originally used in the 19th century as synonymous with ‘as straight as an arrow’ (the movement or rain being nominally straight), as…