Thursday, June 22, 2017

Language of Confusion: Full Stop

And now, to complete our sorta trilogy on speed related etymology, here’s stop words.

Stop showed up as a noun in the late fourteenth century (where it meant a plug before stopping in general) and as a verb sometime before that. It comes from the Old English stoppian, stop or close, which is a West Germanic word that’s popped up in other Germanic languages. As for before that, it might be from the Vulgar Latin stuppare (to stop or stuff with tow) and classical Latin stupa, tow. Um, that’s tow like rope fiber. No, I had never heard that before either. Nor is it related to the other kind of two.

Stall has kind of a funny history. It showed up in the fifteenth century, coming from the Old English steall, a place to catch fish or an animal stall or the Old French estale. Steall comes from the Proto Germanic stal and Proto Indo European stel-, to put or stand. The funny part’s coming up, I swear. See, it’s in the way stall evolved in English. In the late sixteenth century it became to distract someone so a pickpocket could steal from them (like a decoy), and then later in the nineteenth century that evolved into a story to avoid doing something, like stalling someone. Come on! That’s funny!

Break, which I alluded to last week, showed up as a noun in the fourteenth century and a verb sometime before that. It comes from the Old English brecan, to separate into two or more pieces, as well as things like shatter, destroy, and smash. It comes from the Proto Germanic brekan and Proto Indo European bhreg-, to break. Of course, the break we’re looking at is supposed to be the one that means resting. Well, that definition didn’t show up until 1861, meant an interval between lessons at school. So…school gave us breaks. Was it worth it? No. Definitely not.

Halt had several definitions over the years. The stop version didn’t show up until the late sixteenth century, and weirdly enough it doesn’t seem to be related to the two other versions of the world, which means lame or to limp (ever heard someone having a halting gait? That’s where it’s from). Stop halt comes from the French halte, halt, which then came from the Old High German halten, to hold. The origin word for hold. And it’s definitely not related to the other halt, which has a totally different history. What the hell.

Stay is another one with a lot of meanings that we don’t use anymore that may or may not be related. There was one that was a support or brace, which is related to another one that is a rope on a ship’s mast, both of which come from the Proto Germanic stagaz and Proto Indo European stak-. There’s also another one that’s more relevant to the subject this week, showing up in the mid fifteenth century from the Old French estai-/estare, to stay or sand. It comes from the classical Latin stare, to stand, and before that the Proto Indo European sta-, stand or make firm. Which might be related to stak. They aren’t sure, but it would make sense considering they both have stand definitions.

TL;DR: What the hell stop words. I had hoped you would make sense. You disappoint me.

Tony Jebson’s page on the Origins of Old English

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

More Weird Searches

It’s been a few months since I’ve done this so why not?

I’m sensing a pattern here.

Because they’re morons.

Dude. Buddy. Pal. You need to set up your calendar alerts before the holiday.

I looked up despacito to see what it was and then saw it had to do with Justin Bieber and I deleted my history then burned my computer.

…Why is Caillou bald? Frig. This is going to keep me up all night.

Ever searched for anything  and had something  funny come up?

Saturday, June 17, 2017


Sometimes cats can sneak out of the house.
Just pretend that that window has always been there.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Language of Confusion: And Slowly

Well, I did fast. Might as well look at the other side of things. Although I had a harder time coming up with words related to moving slowly. Isn’t that weird?

Slow showed up as a verb in the mid sixteenth century, and as the adjective we more commonly know it as sometime before the thirteenth century. It comes from the Old English slaw, which means slow, and before that it was the Proto Germanic slaewaz. Nothing particularly surprising here. Let’s go look at some other words related to slowing down.

Inert showed up in the mid seventeenth century meaning without force or with no power to respond. It comes from the French inerte or the classical Latin inertem, which could mean unskilled,inactive, or indolent. It also happens to be a mix of the prefix in-, meaning “the opposite of” here, and ars, art. Inert is being the opposite of art.

Brake showed up in the mid fifteenth century as an “instrument for crushing or pounding”. Which…is that how car brakes work? Apparently the word used to be used to refer to the ring through the nose of an ox, and was influenced by an Old French word, brac/bras, an arm. The arm was a lever, which became a brake, which became a word for bridle or curb before becoming a “stopping device for a wheel” in 1772. Anyway, brake comes from the Middle Dutch braeke, flax break, related to breken, to break. And that’s related to break, just kind of distantly.

Slug is kind of a weird word. It’s a bug, a piece of metal, a punch…What the hell? Oh, and the word for the thing that slithers on the ground? It didn’t mean that until the eighteenth century. Three hundred years earlier it was a lazy person, coming from sluggard. That word comes from the Middle English sluggi, which in addition to being the most awesome possibility for a plural of slug meant sluggish or indolent, and is believed to be Scandinavian in origin, although no one’s sure exactly which word it might be from.

Speaking of lazy, that word showed up in the mid sixteenth century as laysy, referring to people who were, well, lazy. Before that…no one really knows. Some people think it’s from the word lay, some think it’s from a Germanic word, or maybe Norse…It just kind of showed up one day.

Tony Jebson’s page on the Origins of Old English

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Time Enough

I’ve talked about XKCD before, and how it’s not only the best stick figure comic of all time (it certainly puts mine to shame) but also one of the best comics period. And almost as if to prove why, creator Randall Munroe occasionally posts unique…well, they’re a lot more than comics. For example, there’s a long history of the temperatures of Earth, a gigantic scrollable comic, and a straight up hoverboard game.

One of the best, though, is Time, a comic that takes place over, well, time. Every thirty seconds, there was a change in the comic displayed, sometimes subtle, sometimes more major. There was something like a hundred in total, a comic book in its own right, gathered together here to click through one at a time, chronicling the story of a nameless man and woman first building a sandcastle, then going on a journey to discover what’s going on with the ocean near their village.

There’s a lot more going on than just that, and it’s honestly one of the more creative stories I’ve come across. It shows Earth during a different time period accurately, to the point where the stars displayed during the gorgeously rendered night scenes are accurate to the time period and the location.

Anyway, check it out if you’d like a little…I guess you’d classify it as some sort of speculative fiction? You’ll see.

Saturday, June 10, 2017


They say April showers bring May flowers. But I think they mean May showers. Also June showers. It never stops raining, is what I’m getting at.
Eh, what do I care? I never go outside anyway.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Language of Confusion: Speedy

This one’s for Liz, who last week mentioned she was wondering where the word fast came from. Just don’t expect an explanation that makes sense!

Speed comes from the Old English sped/spedan, which means success or prosperity. Actually, that’s what speed meant when it first showed up in English, too. It didn’t start meaning a rate of movement until the thirteenth century and it didn’t mean moving fast until the sixteenth century. Before it was sped, it was the Proto Germanic spodiz, and earlier the Proto Indo European spo-ti-, which is from the root word spe-, thrive or prosper. Speed didn’t even mean speed. How crazy is that?

In addition to having to do with speed, fast also means to not eat. So do you think those two words are related? Well, it doesn’t seem like it. Speed fast is somewhat uncertain in origin. It was in the lexicon by the thirteenth century and is likely from the Old Norse fast which could mean firmly as well as to be quick. That firmly definition is still in English (like, to hold fast to something) but it’s not used much anymore. It showed up in Old English as faest/faeste, stable, which is related to the word faestan, to fast. Or fortitude. The whole not eat thing is from the religious aspect of the word, which comes from the Proto Germanic fastan, hold fast or religious abstinence. So while I couldn’t find a definite connection between the words, the fact that the Old Norse version meant firmly makes it seem like it has to be related.

Quick comes from the Old English cwic, which…I’m not sure if that spelling makes more sense or less. Anyway, cwic used to mean alive, living, or animate. And the title “The Quick and the Dead” has just taken on new meaning for me. Anyway, it’s from the Proto Germanic kwikwaz, which can be traced back to the Proto Indo European gwei-, to live. I know I’ve mentioned that word before, although I’ll be damned if I can remember when. As for the whole fast aspect of the word, well, most corpses aren’t very quick, if you catch my drift.

Rapid showed up in the mid seventeenth century, fairly recently, probably from the modern French rapide, fast. It’s related to the classical Latin rapidus, rapid, and its verb form rapere, to carry off, plunder or… rape?! This…this took a very dark turn. Um, apparently the “carry off” part became “carry off quickly”, and so that’s how the word got its meaning. But now you’ll never be able to look at it the same way again.

Haste showed up in the late thirteenth century from the Old French haste, which is from Frankish haifst, violence. Now, Frankish is actually a Germanic language, and haifst comes from the Proto Germanic haifstiz, which I think has the same meaning. Apparently the violence part became the “need for quick action”, which then gave us haste. And fun fact, there’s an Old English word haest that means violent or fury and also comes from haifstiz, but is not where we get haste from. For some reason.

Tl;dr: Words relating to speed are surprisingly dark in origin and have nothing to do with speed.

Tony Jebson’s page on the Origins of Old English

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

June Goals

It’s June already?! But it’s still cold! And rainy! I’m telling you, it’s still April! Oh man. I did NOTHING this month…

May Goals
1. Write at least 5000 more words. I’d like to have more, but I also want to do some minor editing to make sure the whole thing is working right.
I didn’t manage to get all of it, only about three thousand words. All in the last week of the month. Yeah, it was not a productive month.

2. Check out some old projects and see if any of them are worth working on.
Did not do this. Maybe if one of them seemed exciting enough, but I’m just not feeling it.

3. Now that it’s warm enough, spring cleaning.
When I wrote this, it was actually warmer than it was now. And not raining all the time. Seriously, there’s been an hour of sun in the last week. Anyway, I was not able to do as much as I would have liked!

Welp, not awful, but not great either. I probably would have been more productive if I wasn’t so anxious all the time. Mostly about republicans trying to take away my healthcare. Anyway, this month.

June Goals
1. Get to 50K on my WIP (so about six thousand words).

2. Start organizing the outline for abovementioned WIP. This is actually pretty early for me.

3. Get to all the stuff this month that I didn’t do last month. If it ever stops raining!

That’s what I’m doing for June. What are you up to?

Saturday, June 3, 2017


Another true story.
Seriously, best waffles I ever had. Really pleased with how I screwed that up.

Totally Awesome Waffles Recipe
3 cups flour

2 tablespoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

½ cup sugar

1 ½ cup milk

2 eggs

4 tablespoons melted butter (but I used margarine)

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Language of Confusion: -Cuse

Excuse, accuse, recuse. While not the biggest suffix I’ve ever come across, I’d still like to know where they come from. You know, for funsies.

Excuse showed up in the mid thirteenth century as a verb and then a century later as a noun, both with basically the same meaning we know it as. They come from the Old French escuser, apologize, pardon, or exonerate. As usual, they come from the classical Latin excusare, to excuse. Nothing shocking here. But it’s put together from the prefix ex-, out, and causa, which looks like cause with an A. Because it is. And yes, this is where cause comes from. Anyway, it makes this word cause-out. Out-cause. I don’t know. Something.

Accuse showed up in the early fourteenth century meaning charge with an offense/error, impugn, or blame. So not far off. It’s from the Old French accuser, which meant to accuse but early meant report or disclose. Before that it was the classical Latin accusare, where it could mean accusation or charges. That word is actually from a phrase, ad causa, the cause, a mix of ad, with regard to, and the already introduced causa. So it’s “with regard to cause”, kind of fancy. Which makes sense since it was often a legal term.

Finally today, recuse. It’s the youngest one, having shown up in the late fourteenth century meaning to reject another’s authority as prejudiced. You can tell it’s another legal thing because of the fanciness. It’s from the Old French recuser and classical Latin recusare, refuse or object against. The re- means against, while causa…you know. I guess having cause against something is a way to refuse it.


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Spam Bingo

Might as well end the month with this, since I totally misjudged when the last day of May was and didn’t have a post ready it’s in keeping with the theme of this month.
So close! I know I haven’t posted all of these here, but if you don’t believe me go ahead and look through the Spamfiles archive. They’re all there. Sometimes two or three times.

Just two more left. I’ve had someone call pretending to be someone I know asking for money (it’s that scam when someone calls pretending to be an underage relative in jail), but no emails. But I’m really disappointed that I haven’t received any impersonators that can be easily googled. How will I ever win the game?

And if you’d like some actual original contact, Cracked had another interesting article, this one about people using the names of actual people in the military to catfish women. I’ve gotten similar spam in the past several years, although asking for money, not trying to catfish me. This would definitely fall under the realm of pretending to be a real person you can easily google.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Sleeping With Cats

Another cat story because I seem to have a lot of them.
Of course the one who wants to sleep on me all the time is the big, hot, heavy one.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Language of Confusion: Mattress and Buttress

Several months ago, I did words that ended in -ress. Two I skipped were mattress and buttress, as they weren’t related to the others. So let’s look at them now! Because I have no other ideas.

Mattress is surprisingly old, having shown up in the late thirteenth century. It comes from the Old French materas, which comes from the Italian word materasso, just mattress. That’s the word that comes from Latin, in this case the Medieval Latin matracium, which in turn was taken from Arabic, where it was al-matrah, cushion. This is especially unusual because Latin prefers stealing its words from Greek.

Buttress first showed up in the early fourteenth century as a noun and the late fourteenth century as a verb. It comes from the Old French arc botrez, flying buttress. Not sure why it had to be flying, but there you go. It’s supposed to be from bouter, to thrust against, a Frankish word from the Proto Germanic butan, which in turn comes from the Proto Indo European bhau-, to strike. Which is the origin word for butt! But not the one that means your rear end. The one that’s part of head butt. Kind of disappointing, really.


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

From The Spamfiles

Might as well, seeing as that’s what the rest of the month has been about!

HOT girls! They’re on fire! Please send an ambulance!

She doesn’t want to be taken advantage of! So give her your social security number.

There is nothing more suspicious than Jennifer spelled with one N and two F’s.

The poor grammar is typical, but usually the cancer widows are better about spelling. She’s going to have to find someone else to distribute her money to keep it from her husband’s adorpted child.

I’m kind of afraid to find out what you’re supposed to do with that apple cider vinegar.

…Spam isn’t even pretending that it’s not directed at serial killers anymore.

Saturday, May 20, 2017


Another frigging update for Windows 10. Spoiler alert, it doesn’t remove the suck.

In all fairness, it wasn’t all terrible. I can scroll in large documents again. Except now for some reason, now the Number Lock won’t turn off so I can’t use the Home and End buttons there…but only when I’m online. In Word, it’s fine. But if I’m typing into an address bar and want to jump to the beginning, it just goes 77777. Unless I hold down the Control button.

It’s so stupid. Microsoft is unmaking Windows 10 one update at a time.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Language of Confusion: -Dur-

Seriously, dur. Because there are words like during and durable, but also endure. What the hell’s the deal with this word?

During, endure, durable, duration, duress,

During showed up in the late fourteenth century as durand, which was the present participle of the verb duren, which we don’t even use anymore. Duren meant to endure, so I guess that’s what replaced it, and it comes from the Old French durer and classical Latin durare, to last. Durare is related to durus, hard, which is from the Proto Indo European dru-ro- or deru, solid or steadfast. It’s the origin word for true. And tree.

Yeah. Words. Next, endure also showed up in the late fourteenth century coming from the Old French endure, which could mean harden, tolerate/bear, or maintain. It’s from the classical Latin indurare, harden. That word is a mix of in-, or in, as we know it as, and durus, which you should recognize from the previous paragraph.

The rest of the words are more dur- with different endings. Durable is another from the late fourteenth century from the Old French durable and classical Latin durabilis, also durable. It’s basically just duras with a different ending, like durable is during with a different ending. Duration is almost exactly the same origin. Fourteenth century, Old French duration, which came to us from the Latin durare via the Medieval Latin durationem (so that’s where we got the -tion part). Finally, duress. Also fourteenth century, Old French duresse, classical Latin duritia, hardness, and obviously that’s from duras.

And that’s the -dur words. Durr.


Tuesday, May 16, 2017


Yes, another entry in what is coincidentally becoming spam month. I got this last week and it was too outlandish not to share right away.

Harsh, right? I honestly thought at first that it was in my spam folder in error, except… there’s something off about it, even beyond the crazy ranting. There’s the fact that they call me by my email address, which, come on, who does that? And it’s so non-specific. Just that I’ve pissed this obvious lunatic off somehow. And apparently so did my sister? Which is even weirder.

Not that she pissed someone off to this level. That I believe. But I’ve mentioned having a sister very, very few times and she doesn’t even have that email address, so there’s no connection there. Like I said, the whole thing is off.

I was suspicious enough about it that I googled first the name (no results) and then the web domain. That got something. Some guy was talking about receiving an almost identical message, including the mention of the sister. It got him in a lot of trouble with his girlfriend, who thought he was cheating on her. Do they just send these out to everyone in hopes that they have a sister? Because there are plenty of people without one.

Then a few days ago I got another one:

Different email address and mostly different name, except for the EJ. The diction is so weird! “I do not know why”, “It does not mean anything” “Have you not heard of hook up?”. Which, by the way, makes this even more preposterous. Perhaps that was the point. Antagonize me until I reveal personal information to disprove that I’m the person they’re looking for. Someone should inform them that I don’t bother arguing with crazy.

Have any of you ever received any spam like this? Any thoughts as to what the point of this thing was?

Saturday, May 13, 2017


My mom is the worst person to shop for. I had it easy the previous few years because I just kept getting her Hunger Games movies, but unfortunately the series finally came to a close. Now I have to think up something else.
Maybe driving me crazy is her present.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Language of Confusion: Ire

This word is prolific. Surprisingly so.

Ire showed up in the fourteenth century and comes from the Old French ire, which means ire. Stop me if I’m going too fast. Before that it was the classical Latin ira, which…yeah, means wrath, so no big leaps here. Ire can be traced all the way back to the Proto Indo European word eis-, which is, like, everywhere. And don’t go thinking that the name Ira is related, because it’s not. The name Jerome is, though!

Also related is irate. It’s way recent, having shown up in 1838, making it less than two hundred years old. It comes from the classical Latin iratus, angry, which of course comes from the above mentioned ira. Other words that are in this family include irascible, which showed up in the late fourteenth century from the Old French irascible and Late Latin irascibilis and classical Latin irasci, also a word for angry and also from ira.

But let’s look back at eis-. It’s also the origin word for the Greek hieros, sacred, which spawned hieroglyphikos, the word that gave us hieroglyph. Also related is hierarchy, which showed up in the late fourteenth century as jerarchie/ierarchie (yes, a J, but I assume it was pronounced as a Y here). It’s from the Old French ierarchie and Medieval Latin hierarchia, the ranked division of angels. And I assume that you’ve figured out that hierarchia comes from hiero.


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Spam From The Other Side

And by the other side, I mean from the spammer’s point of view. I found this article on the Cracked website that’s an interview with one of the Nigerian spammers who writes the stuff I so frequently post here.

It’s kind of interesting to see why they do what they do and how the police pretty much let them get away with it in exchange for bribes. Also their word for their marks is “maga”, which means dunce. When I found that out, I laughed so hard I cried a little.

Unfortunately, now that Americans are more informed about their scams, the spammers are turning their attention towards other, poorer countries and wiping out peoples’ life savings with a single email. It certainly erases all the amusement of the maga thing.

Anyway, it was an interesting read. And because it wouldn’t be a spam post without spam:

Saturday, May 6, 2017


It’s gross so you can bet cats are involved.
Totally felt like puking, though clearly not as much as the cat did. But that’s one less cricket to keep me up at night.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Language of Confusion: Each And Every One

A bunch more random words that are tied together. At least these ones make sense.

Ever comes from the Old English aefre, which could mean ever or always. No one knows where it came from before that because it has no relatives in any other languages. There is an Old English phrase a to feore, which means for evermore, and they certainly might be related. It also has more of a history, coming from the Proto Germanic aiwo and Proto Indo European aiw-, life, vital force, or eternity (it’s the origin word for eon). And PS, it was Old English that started using ever as an intensifier in words like whenever and wherever.

Next, each. It showed up as the Old English aelc, which is just each. It’s actually short for a-gelic, which literally means always alike. That a- is related to eon, too, as well as aye, which you might think is the agreement one but actually isn’t because there’s apparently another one that means always. But gelic is also where like comes from. Anyway, a-gelic comes from a West Germanic phrase, aiwo galika. I hope you remember where aiwo comes from.

Finally, every showed up in the early thirteenth century as a contraction of the phrase aefre aelc, which is of course a combination of the above two words! Funny, isn’t it? They all started as phrases and turned into words. And every was a phrase from two other phrases! Words are so dumb.

Tony Jebson’s page on the Origins of Old English
Old English-English Dictionary

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

May Goals

Happy Threemilk everyone! It’s the best month out of the year. Not too hot, not too cold, and the bugs aren’t out in full force yet. It’s also finally stopped raining all the time. But that might be a New England thing. Anyway, goals.

April Goals
1. Get at least 5000 words done. I know that’s not a lot, but I’m so busy!
Did this, plus some extra. Woo!

2. Get to work on my side-blog project. I’m going to need to work super hard to get all this done. Thankfully this might be doable since I have some awesome people helping me.
It’s all done, woo! We did a great job. Mostly everyone else, of course : ).

3. Update my etymology page. I don’t want to put it off too long!
An easy one. It’s all up to date up to the question words.

Hey, I did it all. And now I’m really, really tired. Okay, what am I doing this month?

May Goals
1. Write at least 5000 more words. I’d like to have more, but I also want to do some minor editing to make sure the whole thing is working right.

2. Check out some old projects and see if any of them are worth working on.

3. Now that it’s warm enough, spring cleaning.

So these are my plans for Threemilk. What are you up to this month?

Saturday, April 29, 2017


Not kidding. This is 100% what happened. My mom is still taking online classes and won’t leave me alone about it.

I don’t know why she thought I would say yes when that never worked when I asked for help with my homework.

I cannot describe how delicious it was to say no.

Like a cake from the good bakery.


Thursday, April 27, 2017

Language of Confusion: Nearly Next

What’s next? Next, of course.

Next comes from the Old English niehsta/nyhsta/nesta (it’s different depending on which dialect you choose) which means nearest or closest and comes from their word for nigh, neah/neh. I assume you pronounce that like you live in New England.

So it comes from their word for nigh. Gee, I wonder if that’s related? Of course it is. Nigh comes from the Old English neah/neh (it depends on the dialect), which just means nigh or near. And speaking of near, it used to be the Old English…near. See as it turns out, all these words used to be different versions of the same word: nigh. They were like good/better/best, the regular word, its comparative, and its superlative, in this case nigh, nigher (near), and nighest (next). Can’t you hear it? But at some point near and next split off and became their own words that we actually use way more than nigh these days.

Pretty cool one this week. Don’t you agree? No? Just me then?

Tony Jebson’s page on the Origins of Old English

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Getting From Middle To End

I think the middle must be the toughest part of the story. You know, except for the rest of it.

My book is going very slowly (as I’m writing this, my word count is ~45K). It’s kind of frustrating. I used to be able to churn out a rough draft in under two months. Of course, none of those books are even remotely readable, so maybe that isn’t such a bad thing. It’s just hard to keep thinking that way when you live in a world where you’re supposed to do things both quickly and perfectly.

It’s coming along. So I keep telling myself. I really like how this story is shaping up. Sometimes I worry that the main character doesn’t have enough of a personality, that it’s only the things that happen to her that make her interesting, but that’s probably a problem for editing. And I still like her. With all the crap going on her life, she deals with everything as practically as she can. Including the fact that someone almost killed her. She’s definitely someone I’m rooting for. But maybe I’m biased.

Still, there are so many things that I wonder about. Is the story interesting enough? Am I handling it right? Will I ever actually finish? Still having figured that one out. I have an ending in my. It’s getting to it that need to figure out. Yeah, I know this is why people outline but I was afraid if I stopped to do that I’d never actually get to writing. You got to keep up the momentum, you know?

Anyway, that’s what I’m up to. How’s your writing going?

Saturday, April 22, 2017


This is real. The conversation is made up because it was by text, but this actually happened.

Not kidding. A World War II grenade. It was with things belonging to my uncle who died in December, but he may have gotten it from another uncle who died twenty five years ago and just shoved it in the attic without telling anyone. If my grandparents knew about it, they didn’t tell my aunt when she and her husband bought the house from them, which seems really unlikely.

Oh, and the answer to the above question is that you call the police and they call in the bomb squad to get rid of it.

Quite a Wednesday.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Secret Origins: 4

More symbols!  Also kind of a short one. I guess that’s fitting considering how long last weeks was.

The word four comes from the Old English feower, which means four of course. Before that it was the Proto Germanic fedwor and Proto Indo European kwetwer. Yes, originally there was no f in four. One theory is that it’s because of the next number (you know, five). I don’t know how. Maybe people looked at the F in five and were like, whoa. I like that.

The symbol’s history is a lot weirder. Even more so than 3! The Medieval version of it looks like a ribbon, while the Arabic version is more like a backwards 3, or sometimes what looks like a bobby pin. Then the Hindu version is an upside down ribbon. And the Brahmi had a plus symbol. When it wasn’t a kind of loop, which at least might be where the upside down ribbon came from.

There’s…not really much else? Sorry. But I would like to point out that for a while there was this post going around that said that the symbols were all based on the number of corners they had (look at this picture for a better idea). It’s total nonsense, especially since most of the symbols aren’t how we really write the numbers. Especially nine. Come on, who puts a spiral at the end of 9 just so it has more angles to it? Who writes them all blocky ever?

Tony Jebson’s page on the Origins of Old English
Origin of the numerals Zero Concept by Ahmed Boucenna, Laboratoire DAC, Department of Physics, Faculty of Sciences, Ferhat Abbas University

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

From The Spamfiles

Yay! Spam time again! I don’t have to write a real post!

Wow. I did not know this was what Christianity researched. I was way off.

I’m…a little worried about the tasty thing. Please don’t be hiding outside my house with a knife and fork.

I’m insulted that this spam is so lazy that they didn’t either bother to fill in the badly worded template! They could at least put some effort into spamming me!

I MAY have won a Sam’s Club Reward Card! Stop the frigging presses.

It’s almost Christmas! Show off your body! That’s prime body showing off time! Actually it probably is for people in the southern hemisphere. But not here! Cold! Snow!

I have standards, mike. I only date guys who capitalize their first names. And aren’t an awkward amount older than me.

Saturday, April 15, 2017


You know how dangerous magnets are for computers, right?
Okay, maybe they weren’t that high. But you should know by now that I like to be dramatic.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Language of Confusion: Question Words

You know, like who, what, where, when, why, which, and how. Maybe we’ll get an explanation as to why how is the only one not beginning with W. Why don’t we change that?

Who comes from the Old English hwa, which could also mean someone or anyone as well as who. It’s from the Proto Germanic hwas and earlier, the Proto Indo European kwo-, which was the source of a lot of interrogative pronouns, as we’re about to see. No explanation as to why it switched from K to H, but it does seem like the H to W thing is just because the former has softened over the years. And whom is from the same place, just via hwam, which is another version of hwa.

What is from the Old English hwaet, where it could mean what but also who, something...and hark. It’s from the Proto Germanic hwat, which you may recognize as what with the first two letters switched, and the Proto Endo European kwod, which is a form of kwos. Another form for who.

Why comes from the Old English (again) hwi, which was a form of hwaet called the instrumental case. Instrumental is an old grammar form that appeared in Old English (Russian actually still has it) that indicates indirect receivers of action, objects of prepositions, or that a thing is being used. Basically why comes from a form of what that isn’t used anymore and as we all know it comes from the word for who. Although Proto Indo European also had a version of why, kwi, again, another version of kwo.

Okay, you can probably guess at least some of this one. Where comes from the Old English hwaer, which means where. No surprises here. It’s from the Proto Germanic hwar, which is from, all together now, kwo. Are you beginning to see a pattern?

I probably don’t even need to look this one up to guess, but here we go. When is from the Old English whaenne, which means when as a direct question. It’s from the Proto Germanic hwan-/hwa- which… looks very familiar. Dammit, it’s the same one as before and it’s from kwo-.

I’m no longer expecting anything new. Which was hwilc/hwaelc in Old English, and was actually short for hwi-lic, “of what form”. So yeah. Hwi again. And the lic means body (body/form) and is where like comes from. Hwi-lic comes from the Proto Germanic hwa-lik-, and we all should know by now that hwa/hwi comes kwo-.

How comes from the Old English hu, just how. Before that, it’s the Proto Germanic hwo and of course Proto Indo European kwo. No clue as to why this one stuck with H while none of the other ones did. Just weird I guess.

tl;dr: All question words go back to kwo-. It is the one true question.

Tony Jebson’s page on the Origins of Old English

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

293 Keys

I found a game. In it, all you do is search through a pile of keys and try them in a lock until one fits. Then you leave and see how many tries it took you.

That’s it. Seriously.

It’s the stupidest, most pointless game ever. The controls are wonky (don’t knock a key off the cliff before you’ve tried it), it’s not a particularly attractive game, and there’s literally nothing to do except put keys in the lock.

So why can’t I stop playing it??

Have you ever been unable to stop doing anything pointless? What’s the most addictive dumb game you’ve ever found?

Saturday, April 8, 2017


I swear, they weren’t on there until the second the package containing my new comforter arrived.

No, of course I can’t move them myself. I’m not a monster.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Language of Confusion: Reluctantly

Just a short one today, as I’m super busy.

Neither reluctance nor reluctant are very old, both having showed up in the mid seventeenth century. Now reluctant used to mean unwilling, pretty close to what we use it for, but reluctance specifically meant the “act of struggling against” when it first came into being and it wasn’t until a couple of decades later that it meant unwillingness to do something. And also it comes from an awesome word that we don’t use anymore, reluct, which means struggle or rebel against.

Reluct (why don’t we have it anymore??) comes from the classical Latin reluctari, which means to resist, not a huge leap. It’s a combination of the prefix re-, against, and luctari, struggle, so it actually makes sense. And hey, if you’re reluctant to do something you’re definitely going to struggle against it, right? Luctari can actually be traced all the way back to the Proto Indo European lug-to, bent. Okay, that one I can’t figure. Bending something is a struggle? I guess if it’s not very bendable. I don’t know what it could be referring to, though. Not metal, as Proto Indo European is like fifty five hundred years old and that’s way before metalwork was used.

I’m reading too much into this. It went from bent to unwilling. Let’s leave it at that.


Tuesday, April 4, 2017

April Goals

Ugh, this month is going to be busy, isn’t it? Expect posts to get a lot more succinct. Like this.

March Goals
1. Actually write 10K this time. Or, at the very least, finish last month’s 10K.
I did finish the 10K from the last one, but because I got so busy with other stuff I didn’t press it any further.

2. See if I can by that book I want to read for research. And, you know, read it.
Did not get to this, unfortunately. I don’t know when I’m ever going to get time to read again.

3. Try to think up something fun to do. Because we could all use a little fun right now.
…More like the opposite of this.

Okay, this month.

April Goals
1. Get at least 5000 words done. I know that’s not a lot, but I’m so busy!

2. Get to work on my side-blog project. I’m going to need to work super hard to get all this done. Thankfully this might be doable since I have some awesome people helping me.

3. Update my etymology page. I don’t want to put it off too long!

What are you up to this month?

Saturday, April 1, 2017


I hate hate hate this holiday. I am really not one for practical jokes.
Some things you just don’t joke about.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Language of Confusion: -Cence, Part II

And now the conclusion. Of words that end in -cence but aren’t related to essence. I have to be specific because there are a ton of those and none of them are mentioned here.

Convalescence is one of those words that the N was just kind of thrown in there at some point, which seems to be a recurring theme for these words. It’s from the Middle French convalescence and Late Latin convalescentia, regaining of health. It comes from the classical Latin convalescere, recover, the origin word for convalesce, which we don’t really use that much these days. It’s a mix of the prefix com-, although that’s just an intensifier here, and valescere, grow strong. That word is actually related to valere, to be strong/healthy, which just happens to be the origin word for valiant.

Reminiscence first showed up in the late sixteenth century from the Middle French reminiscence and Late Latin reminiscentia, remembrance or recollection. That in turn is from the classical Latin reminiscentem, recollecting and reminisci, also recollecting. The word is a mix of re-, again, and menisci, which is from mens, or mind. So it’s to mind again. Or…remind. Man, you don’t often get one that makes total sense no matter how you look at it.

Reticence showed up in the early seventeenth century from the Middle French reticence and classical Latin reticentia, reservation or silence. The verb form is reticere, keep silent, a mix of re- (I think it’s just intensive here) and tacere, be silent. Which, you know, is where tacit comes from.

Magnificence showed up in the mid fourteenth century from the Old French magnificence, splendor, nobility, or grandeur, and before that, it was the classical Latin magnificentia, which meant splendor or beautiful (something nice, is what I’m getting at). Magnificentia comes from magnificus, majestic, a word that’s a mix of magnus, great, and facere, do or make. Magnificence is something that was made great.

TL;DR: Still none of these words are related. And every other -cence word is related to essence.

Orbis Latinus