Saturday, February 18, 2017


I can’t remember why this subject came up in the first place, just that it ended with my mom admitting I was right. That doesn’t happen often.
For those keeping track, that’s the year I was born.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Language of Confusion: Tactful

I can’t believe I haven’t done the word tact before. Not that it’s some major important word or anything. It just really feels like I’ve done it. Is this déjà vu? Déjà écrit?

Just plain tact showed up in the mid seventeenth century as a sense of touch or feeling, more literal as opposed to the more figurative sense it has today. It comes from the classical Latin tactus, touch, so no big surprises there. It does come from tangere, to touch, which is the origin word for tangent which was kind of surprising. There’s no real reason as to why tangent changed so much, but apparently tangentem also means tangent so that weirdness goes all the way back. Tactile also comes from this line, via the French tactile and Latin tactilis, of touch. Since something that you can touch is tangible, that’s where we get that word. Damn, this makes tangent mean even less sense.

There are plenty of other tact words out there. Tactics showed up in the early seventeenth century, a hundred and forty years before tactic. They both come from the Latin tactica, which comes from the Greek taktike techne, which literally means regular art. I’m not even sure how to react to that. It is related to taktikos, regular or arranged, which can relate to war tactics, so that’s where that comes from. In any case, you’ll notice that tactic doesn’t come from the same word as tact. At least, not in Latin. They are related earlier, in Proto Indo European, where taktikos and tangere come from tag-, to set in order. Well, that’s where the regular part comes from.

Finally, there are the words that end in tact. Like intact. I didn’t mean to do that, it was just a coincidence. It showed up in the mid fifteenth century coming from the classical Latin intactus, untouched. That’s because in- is a weird prefix that can mean not, like it does here, or into. Since tactus is touched, then we have untouched, and something intact is I guess at least metaphorically untouched. Next is contact, which showed up in the early seventeenth century from the Latin contactus, which means touching. Or, you know, contact. Con- means together here, so touching together. Yeah, kind of ended on a well, duh note here.


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Spam Senses

I got a weird email the other day:

Personally, I have no trouble with being more accessible to people who need it. If there was an actual problem with my blog, then I would work on fixing it. But!

My spam senses were tingling when I read this, for several reasons. First of all, this person mentioned that this was a follow up to a message I don’t remember seeing before, a trope so common that I put it on Spam Bingo. Next is the fact that I don’t actually have a link to that website. Hell, that link to my archive they have doesn’t even exist because I never posted on June 1, 2015. Unless they’re talking about January 6, 2015, which I did post on, although I never use that date format. And also does not have any calendar links on it. (It was actually my resolutions post for the year)

So, yeah. Pretty suspicious, “Amanda Soriano”. I didn’t click on the links they included (who knows where they really led), but I did look up the places they linked to. WebAIM is a real thing to check web page accessibility and The Time Now is a digital calendar. I guess this was some sort of campaign to get people to use one or the other. Or both. If so, it was a very poor one because it is very scammy in nature. The only thing less trustworthy is a robo call from the IRS asking you to pay an overdue tax bill with Best Buy gift cards.

That actually happened. It was reported in the paper. People fell for it, so maybe this isn’t so far off the mark.

Anyway, keep an eye out for scams and don’t ever click on any links in an email even if it looks like it’s to a legitimate site. This has been a public service message brought to you by scammers and the fact that I had nothing else to post about.

Happy Valentine’s Day! Eat lots of candy.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Thursday, February 9, 2017

The Language of Confusion: Ultima

Ultimate showed up in the mid seventeenth century, coming from the Late Latin ultimatus and its verb form ultimare. Before that it’s from the classical Latin ultimus, last, which is related to ultra, more. You might not believe this, but that word happens to be the origin word for ultra. I know. It’s pretty tough to believe.

I know you can’t see it, but I’m rolling my eyes.

We can go even further with ultra, all the way back to the Proto Indo European ol-tero-. The ol- gives us the beyond part as it comes from al-, which has given us words like alias and else. Yeah. Ultimate is (distantly) related to else and alias. Who knew?

Of course, there are a few other ultimate words in English. Did you know there used to be a “yesterday” for months? It was the word ultimo, coming from the Latin phrase ultimo menses, or last month. It was in use from the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries and then…I guess we got bored of it? That happens sometimes. There’s also penultimate, which comes from penultima, a word that showed up in the late sixteenth century and means the next to last syllable in a word. It’s from another Latin phrase, penultima syllaba, literally penultimate syllable. The ultima comes from ultimate, while the pen is from paene, almost. Penultimate is…almost last.

Orbis Latinus

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

February Goals

It’s February. The world is marching towards oblivion. I blame Dicaprio winning that Oscar. That was when everything started going downhill.

Anyway, goals or whatever.

January Goals
1. 10K more. Keep up the pace!
10K down. It’s definitely weak in some places, though. I’d feel better about my slow output if it was better written. I don’t know, I just have to find a reason to be depressed about it.

2. Update my etymology page again. I don’t want it to get out of hand!
Yes, it’s up to date as of the 26th. Mostly because I put it off until then :P.

3. Do all the stupid adult crap I have to do. I hate being an adult.
UGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH this sucks. The worst part is that I screwed something up and it’s taking a while to fix and I’m super stressed out about it…

I managed to do everything. It’s more impressive when you remember that I’ve been hiding under the bed for the last two weeks in preparation of the coming apocalypse. Anyway, this month!

February Goals
1. Another 10K. I will write this or die trying.

2. Read some new books.

3. Organize all my stick figure comics. This is kind of hard to explain, but because it’s mostly copy and paste, I have tons of different images that I could reuse. If I was able to find them.

Anyway, that’s the plan. Unless a meteor comes crashing down and destroys the world. Fingers crossed!

Saturday, February 4, 2017


Two cat comics in a row. They’ve been very entertaining lately.

For the record, she was fine.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Language of Confusion: Variable

Today we’re looking at vary and all its…variations. Sorry. Couldn’t avoid that pun. And didn’t want to.

Vary showed up in the fourteenth century from the Old French variier, change or alter, and classical Latin variare, to change. So yeah, vary always meant change. It’s believed to be related to varus, which has definitions like different, bent, and knock-kneed (-_-). It’s from the Proto Indo European wer-, a bodily infirmary, usually a raised spot on the body. You know, like a wart. Which makes sense because wer- is the origin word for wart.

This post took a very strange turn, but it can’t be helped. Keep in mind that wart has a completely different origin after wer-. It was warton in Proto Germanic and waert in Old English afterwards. Verruca, another word for wart, is actually closer to vary, and not because it starts with the same letter. Other distantly related words include varicose, which comes from the Latin varicosus, which actually means multicolored in addition to dilated veins. It’s from varicis, which also means wart and is probably related to the aforementioned varus.


Tony Jebson’s page on the Origins of Old English