Thursday, July 30, 2015

Language of Confusion: Pretty Words

Sometimes it seems like we have a lot of words to call something good looking. Some of them, like lovely and attractive, are just a word plus an ending that makes it an adjective. Others, like pretty and cute, are their own words. What’s their story?

Pretty comes from an Old English word that’s slightly different depending on which dialect you pick: it’s praettig in West Saxon (southwest England), pretti in Kentish (southeast England), and prettig in Mercian (central England). But, get this, in all dialects the word meant cunning or skillful and it comes from the Proto Germanic pratt, which evolved into a bunch of words in old Germanic languages that all mean trick or fun, and in fact it still means fun in Dutch. As to why it went from cunning to what we have now, well, first, in the fifteenth century, it meant manly or gallant, and then it was attractive or skillfully made, then fine, then by the mid fifteenth century, “beautiful in a slight way”. A little later on in the fifteenth century, it also became a synonym for rather and considerably, because…reasons? Well, it makes sense for something skillful to be attractive, and having a lot of something would also be attractive, so maybe that’s it. It’s just my guess, though.

Beauty first showed up in the early fourteenth century meaning attractive as well as goodness or courtesy. It comes from the Anglo French beute and Old French biauté/beltet, which meant beauty in the attractiveness sense. Before that, it was the Vulgar Latin bellitatem/bellitas, coming from the classical Latin bellus, cute, pretty or beautiful. Fun fact, in Latin it was used primarily for women and children. It was considered insulting or ironic to use it on men. Which just proves that even a thousand years ago, men were afraid to be associated with anything remotely feminine.

Okay, handsome is totally amusing to me because the word was literally created by putting the word hand with some. It first showed up in the early fifteenth century meaning easy to handle or at hand. It wasn’t until the sixteenth century that it moved to mean fit or appropriate, and then towards the end of the century, good looking. So from easy to appropriate to attractive. Sure. Why not.

Finally today, we’re looking at gorgeous. It showed up in the early sixteenth century meaning splendid or showy and relating to clothing. It comes from the Middle French gorgias, elegant or fashionable. Before that, no one’s really sure. One theory is that it’s from another definition of the word gorgias, which is necklace. It also might be somehow related to the Greek name Gorgias, which my computer keeps autocorrecting gorgias to. Basically, gorgeous popped up in French and no one knows why.

Tony Jebson’s page on the Origins of Old English

Tuesday, July 28, 2015


It’s that time of year again. As always, I will be (mostly) offline for the week of my birthday, so from about August 23rd to the 30th. I plan to spend the entire time eating cake and playing video games, or what I like to call “vacation”.

Like this. But bigger.

I’m turning twenty nine this year, and if my mom is any indication, that’s as old as I’m ever going to get. She herself is only twenty nine, which is miraculous since she is now younger than all three of her children. I’m not sure if it’s some kind of time stasis or what, but I do know that I’m not allowed to question her about it. Ever.

So! If anyone has anything they want to promote or feels like giving me a guest post, please, let me know. Have a great August!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Ice Tea

This is a 100% true story. No embellishments.

You can't really tell this, but I'm actually green in the bottom two panels. Also not an exaggeration.


Thursday, July 23, 2015

Language of Confusion: -Rated R, Part III

Okay, the last set of words. I think.

Consecrate showed up in the late fourteenth century from the classical Latin consecrates (just consecrated) and its verb form consecrare (consecrate, obvs). The con- means together and sacrare means sacred. So it’s together sacred. Well, obviously it’s not literal. And sacrare of course is the origin word for sacred. What a shocker.

Demonstrate showed up in the mid sixteenth century meaning point out. It comes from the classical Latin demonstratus, which also meant point out i.e. by deduction. The prefix de- has a weird number of meanings, but in this case it means entirely. The rest of the word is from monstrare, which just means show. And yes, it’s the origin word for monster. When I was little, I always thought that monster and demonstrate were related in some way. Somehow, I was right.

Next, considerate showed up in the late sixteenth century with pretty much the same meaning, coming from the classical Latin consideratus, considered, and its verb considerare, consider, of course. In this case, the con- means with (stupid words and their multiple meanings) and the rest comes from the word sidusstar. No fooling, it literally translates to star, and the reason we have consider is probably because considerare came from people “considering” the stars. And it’s the origin word for sidereal, a word I’ve seen before and thought was pronounced like side + real but apparently is actually sahy-deer-ee-uhl. I’m not even sure how to react to that.

The final word brings with it the key to the -rate words. Invigorate, which showed up in the mid seventeenth century. It’s not really a -rate word. It’s actually in- + vigor + -ate. But we’re already here, so let’s get to it. In this case, in- means into or on. Vigor showed up in the early fourteenth century from the Anglo French vigour and Old French vigor, force or strength. Before that, it was the classical Latin vigorem/vigor, which mean vitality and vigor respectively, both of which stem from the verb vigere, to thrive. Even further back, it’s the Proto Indo European weg-, lively or active, the origin word for wake. Finally, the last part of the word, -ate, is a common Latin suffix for verbs that end in -are. You know, like most of the -rate words we’ve been looking at these past weeks. Mystery solved [mic drop].


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

From the Spamfiles

I totally had a great idea for a blog post. But I can’t remember what it was so here’s more from the Spamfiles.

Disappointingly, I haven’t been getting as many of these random-phrase-filled spams as I used to. I like this one because it says “Stan called her life without me”. I’d like to know what prompted Stan to think up such a unique name.

So this woman has accessed to a dead person’s money and she basically wants me to help her steal it. Sure. Okay.

This one just sounds like something a serial killer would say.

The subject line is of course ridiculous. But it’s the beginning of the message that makes this piece of spam hilarious. “If you are a woman, just skip this information and forget you have ever seen this notice.” Someone should tell the spammer that if that really worked, it’s way more valuable than some stupid way to get girls.

 Apparently, you can protect your family from sex offenders by stopping the ringing in your ears and falling asleep naturally. Who knew?

Saturday, July 18, 2015


This usually happens to me every other week (the off weeks being when I have no ideas at all of what to post).

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Language of Confusion: -Rated R, Part II

Part two of the hit trilogy.

Shut up. It might be.

First up today: reverberate. It showed up in the late sixteenth century meaning to force back for a couple of decades before it switched to echo. Although before there was reverberate it was reverberen—really. Then there’s reverberation, which showed up way earlier, in the late fourteenth century, meaning a reflection of light or heat. Reverberation came from the Old French reverberacion, intense or a flash of light, and before that, the Medieval Latin reverberationem and classical Latin reverberare, reverberate or bounce back. The re- is where the back comes from and verberare means barrage or beat. Verber, the noun that comes from, means whip or lash, and it’s related to verbena, which is laurel branches (I could not make this up) and because those are bendy and good for whipping, we have bounce back, and thus, reverberate. Sure, why not?

Next is incarcerate. It showed up in the mid sixteenth century, either coming from the Medieval Latin incarcerates/incarcerare or just straight from incarceration, which showed up in the early sixteenth century. That incarcerare literally means imprison, with the in- obviously meaning in and carcer meaning prison. So incarcerate always just meant incarcerate. I guess language is very steady when it comes to imprisonment.

Penetrate showed up in the early sixteenth century from the classical Latin penetrates/penetrare, put or enter into, and despite what you dirty minded people might be thinking, it has nothing to do with a certain part of the male anatomy.

Finally, concentrate showed up in the mid seventeenth century as a verb (it wasn’t a noun until the late nineteenth century, believe it or not), about at the same time as concentration did. Like reverberate, there was another version of the word in use, concenter, which came from the Italian concentrare—really! Italian! Not French! It’s a mix of the classical Latin com-, together, and centrum, center. Which is also the origin word of center (Gasp!).

Welp, that’s it for this week. Actually pretty interesting. Stay tuned for the thrilling conclusion.


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

More than Halfway

At the beginning of the year, I wrote out a bunch of resolutions that I wanted to complete by the end of 2015. And now I’d like to see how I’m doing! Well, not “like”. Fear. Yes, that’s the word.

Resolutions 2015
1. Finish REMEMBER. It’s been over a year now! I’m hoping to get it out to beta readers by summer, but if time keeps moving as fast as it is, who knows? (I mean, it’s clearly not me…right?)
Oh. Right. This. Oops…

2. Write a new book : ). This should be easy. I have a few ideas rolling around my head, but no spark yet. Which is good, as I have enough on my plate right now.
Well, I’m working on it! Who knows if I’ll be able to do it, what with my lack of writing time…

3. Make more manageable goals. Sometimes I think I reach too far, and I end up crushed when I don’t get even close to my goal, and then I don’t think I can do anything…etc. etc. This is me, trying to be more positive by understanding my limits. Let’s see how long this one lasts.
Hey, I kind of did this! It’s a miracle!

4. Rewrite an old book. There’s one WIP I’ve been telling myself I’d rewrite for ages and never getting around to doing so. So here it is on my list, and hopefully I’ll get to it.
…Oops again.

5. One stick figure comic a week! More manageable goals, remember? : )
Oh, thank god, something I actually did.

6. Cut back on sugar. Ugh, I hate this one, but I really do need to cut back…
Crap. I made this a goal?!

7. Be awesome. Oh, wait, I always am anyway.
Well, obviously this is a success.

Frigging hell. I’m going to need an extension on this year. So how is your year going so far? Any resolutions you’ve completely forgotten about? All of them? Is it all of them?

Saturday, July 11, 2015


Ever spot a spider on the ceiling and walk all the way around it?

In my defense, I didn’t know it wasn’t in my hair.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Language of Confusion: -Rated R, Part I

Words with “rate” in them. There are kind of a lot. Like, three parts a lot. Which I’m fine with since it saves me from having to come up with new ideas.

Just plain rate first showed up in the early fifteenth century as a noun and a little later as a verb, both coming from the Old French rate, price or value. Before that, it was the Medieval Latin rata pars, fixed amount, and classical Latin rata, which has meanings like ratified, custom, firm, and fixed. Rata is the past participle of reri, to think, which is the origin word for reason and ratio. Reri can actually be traced even further back to the Proto Indo European re, to reason or count, and also the origin word for read. So basically, rate has a big extended family. Also, there’s another version of rate that showed up in the late fourteenth century as, seriously, to scold. That’s actually where the word berate comes from, and it’s descended from the Old French reter, blame, and classical Latin reputare, which shouldn’t surprise you as the origin word for reputation.

Next, we’re going to look at separate. It showed up in the late fourteenth century from the classical Latin separatus and separare, both of which are just different tenses of separate. That word is a mix of a little used prefix se-, which means apart and parare, prepare. Well, that was kind of boring.

Operate is fairly recent, having showed up in the early seventeenth century, although operation showed up over two centuries earlier. And of course neither word had anything to do with surgery or operating a machine. Back then, it was just an action. Operation comes from the Old French operacion and classical Latin operationem, which means operation, but only in the in action sense.

Finally today, we’re looking at corporate. It showed up in the early fifteenth century meaning united as one body, coming from the classical Latin corporatus and corporare, which both just mean corporation and corporate. They of course come from corporeus (physical) and corpus (body), the origin words for things like corpse and corporeal. Those words can be traced back to Proto Indo European, where he word is kwrep- (don’t ask me how to pronounce it), body or appearance.

TL;DR: -Rate words aren’t related.


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

July Goals

The year is now more than half over. I think it’s safe to say I’ve accomplished nothing.

June Goals
1. Try to find more time to write. And, you know. Write.
I did do this, and fairly successfully I think. Yay!

2. Finish that short story from last month. Well, last last month. Yes, this is a separate goal. I couldn’t think of anything else I’ll be doing this on the weekend, which is technically my free time.
Only a “kind of” on this one, as I worked on it, but as usual, it was a bit longer than I thought it would be.

3. Update the etymology page again. It has to be done sometime!
Yay! Did it! Using Excel for this is so much easier than Word. It comes out in such nice, even rows. Seriously, go look at it. It’s a thing of beauty.

Actually pretty good. Let’s hear it for realistic goals! And now, for this month…

July Goals
1. Figure out what I want to do with the fantasy idea that I have. Obviously I want to write a book, but I have to see about having the time!

2. Work on my other projects and hopefully make enough money to, you know, live.

3. Start working on extra post ideas because next month is August and you know that’s vacation month. And my birthday! WOOOO!

Okay, so that’s what I have planned for July. I think I can do it. What about you?

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Feeding Time

Don’t ever spill a piece of cat food. Or really any food. They’ll come.

I was not gone that long, I swear.

I don’t know where they came from. I just know that there was entirely too many.

Oh, and Happy Fourth of July. Don't let the mental image of a thousand ants swarming over a piece of cat food spoil your appetite.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Language of Confusion: The Outside World

I mean stuff that’s outside. I really couldn’t think of a clever name for this one.

Tree comes from the Old English treo/treow, which means tree, but can also mean wood, timber, log—pretty much anything made out of trees. Amusingly enough, back when Old English had turned into Middle English and treo became tree, there was also a plural for the word: treen. You can’t tell me that’s not hilarious. It comes from the Proto Germanic treuwaz and further back, the Proto Indo European drew-o-, so it’s been relatively stable throughout the past six thousand or so years. It’s also worth mentioning that drew-o- is also the origin word for the word true. Seriously!

Forest on the other hand showed up in the late thirteenth century, usually used as a word for a tree covered area reserved for royalty to go hunt in. It comes from the Old French forest, which just means forest, and it came from either the Late/Medieval Latin phrase forestem silvam, which was to denote royal forests like above, or it comes from the Medieval Latin forestis, which meant something like a game preserve and came from the classical Latin forum (which shockingly enough means forum). Of course, no one’s sure which one of those is right, or if it’s something else entirely.

Grass comes from the Old English graes/gaers, which can mean grass or herb or plant. Further back, it’s the Proto Germanic grasan and Proto Indo European ghre-, which I mentioned long ago as the origin word for green. Well, that was a fast one.

Now it’s time to get dirty, a pun of which I’m greatly ashamed for making. Dirt showed up in the fifteenth century, coming from the Old Norse drit and Proto Germanic dritan. You might have noticed that the i and the r used to be reversed. Well, in Middle English, it was drit/drytt, but apparently people started saying it wrong (a thing called metathesis) and now we have dirt. There’s also the word earth. It comes from the Old English eorÞe (the Þ just means th—remember last week?), which, much like earth, meant either dirt or the entire planet. Further back it’s the Proto Germanic ertho and Proto Indo European er-, which meant earth or ground.

Finally today, we’re looking at soil, which showed up in the early thirteenth century as a verb meaning to pollute with sin, the fourteenth century as a noun that meant an area of land, and then later in the seventeenth century as a word for dirt and sewage (ew!). It comes from the Old French soillier, to dirty, like with mud. It also meant to wallow, because it comes from the word souil, which is a word for a pigsty, and comes from one of two classical Latin words, solium, which can mean throne or bathtub, or suculus, little pig. So because pigs wallow in mud, we have soil.

Tony Jebson’s page on the Origins of Old English