Thursday, March 31, 2016

Language of Confusion: Just Kidding

Today the word we’re looking at is…

That’s the last you’ll see of Stick Figure Me for a month. I know you’ll miss her, but you’ll always have etymology.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

April Goals

What’s this? My April Goals…in March? What insanity is this?

Well, it’s because the A-to-Z Challenge starts on Friday and the first Tuesday in April, which is normally reserved for my goals’ post, is an etymology post starting with the letter E. I mean, sure, I could double post, but then I would have to think up another post for here, wouldn’t I?

Okay, let’s see how I did last month. Which is this month.

March Goals
1. Finish the pattern (again! Like I never work on it!). All work and no play make Jack a dull boy.
I…actually did it. Honest and truly. I even printed it out. It’s done and I…I’m getting a little overcome with emotion right now. Onto the next.

2. Write! Please this time!
No : (, at least nothing that was FUN to write. Sigh…

3. Get all my Challenge posts set up so they’re ready to post. Hey, I might actually be able to do this one!
Yes, I did it! As you will see starting Friday.

Not bad! I feel like I actually accomplished something this month. So onto April…

April Goals
1. The Challenge! Visit at least five new blogs every day. At least finding new ones won’t be a problem!

2. The pattern is done, so do some actual writing this time, dammit!

3. Spring Cleaning. Yeah, I’m making this a goal. Might as well have an easy one :P.

So that’s my plan for April. What about you? Anything interesting going on?

Saturday, March 26, 2016


My mom happens to be taking a statistics class, which means math, which means she absolutely is asking me questions every five minutes.

At least after this time she wrote down what an irrational number was.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Language of Confusion: Persuaded

Today we’re looking at persuade and its opposite, dissuade. It’s going to be short and sweet.

You’ll realize why that’s hilarious in a minute.

Persuade showed up in the early sixteenth century from the Middle French persuader and classical Latin persuadere, which is just persuade. Persuasion actually showed up earlier, in the late fourteenth century. It comes from the Old French persuasion and classical Latin persuasionem, which means convincing or, well, persuading. Dissuade has a similar history, coming from the Middle French dissuader and classical Latin dissuadere, discourage. Still simple so far, right? Well, just wait.

It’s when you start to break up the words that things get interesting. The prefix per- means strongly or thoroughly while the end of the word comes from suadere, which also means persuade. And dissuade, with the dis- prefix, just means persuade against. Still sensible! But then you look at suadere. It comes from the Proto Indo European swad-, which means…sweet.

Sweet. I’m not kidding here. And where do you think the word sweet comes from? Yep, swad. Sweet is descended from the Old English swete, which is just sweet with the letters switched around. Before that, it’s the Proto Germanic swotja, which in turn comes from swad. Now, the word swad was used for pleasant things in general, not just things that tasted sweet, but it still seems kind of weird that it went from that to persuade. Maybe because you persuade people with sweet words? I guess that might make sense…

Tony Jebson’s page on the Origins of Old English

Monday, March 21, 2016

A-to-Z Challenge Theme Reveal

It’s almost here! Just over a week away now! And here’s my Theme Reveal post, which is why I’m posting a day early.

 A to Z Challenge Theme Reveal 3-21-2016

Come on. You know what I’m doing. It’s the same thing I did last year, and the year before that. It’s the same thing I do every Thursday pretty much without exception.

I love etymology. I think it’s fun and weird and interesting. The most bizarre words are related—black and bleach come from the same place, but ass (butt) and ass (donkey) do not. What the frigging HELL.

And that’s only the tip of the iceberg of bizarre things that are true about the words we say. So yes, I’m doing it again, and I can only assume I’ll do it again next year and the year after that and the year after that. Because it’s cool and there are plenty of subjects to analyze and also I don’t have to come up with any other post ideas for a month.

There you have it. Are you doing a theme for the Challenge this year? Are you doing the Challenge at all? What else do you have planned for April?

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Spring In New England

Let’s say it’s…temperamental.

It’s supposed to snow tomorrow. SNOW. And not a brief dusting, either. Four to six inches. On the first day of spring. At least it will probably melt quickly from the heatwave made by my own hatred.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Language of Confusion: -Served

This week: serve and words that end in -serve. I think you’ll be pleasantly amused at how ridiculous it is. I know I was.

Serve showed up in the late twelfth century, coming from the Old French servir and classical Latin servire, both of which basically mean to serve. Now, it’s related to servus, slave, but it doesn’t seem to be related to the suffix -serve. Serve has no further origin, although it might be Etruscan, and -serve has a different history (you’ll see in a minute). They still might be related, but unfortunately I don’t know enough ancient Latin to be sure.

Next, we’re looking at deserve, the only -serve word that’s related to serve. It showed up in the early thirteenth century from the Old French deserver and classical Latin deservire, serve well. The de- prefix here means completely because prefixes are stupid sometimes, so “serve completely” makes sense. And apparently the idea of being served well transformed into being entitled to good service, and that’s why we have deserve.

Observe showed up in the late fourteenth century, coming from the Old French observer/osserver, which is just observe. That of course comes from the classical Latin observare, which has meanings that range from observe to guard to heed. It’s a ranged word, is what I’m saying. It’s a mix of the prefix ob-, over, and servare, save, keep, or preserve. So it’s to over save? Anyway! Servare can be traced to the Proto Indo European ser-, to protect. And it doesn’t seem to be related to serve. Man, how weird.

Next, reserve. It showed up in the mid fourteenth century and it has a fairly similar origin as observe. It comes from the Old French reserver, withhold, and before that the classical Latin reservare, reserve or hold back. The re- prefix is the back part, and with the save/keep of servare, it’s literally “keep back”. Well, at least that makes sense.

Next, preserve showed up in the late fourteenth century from the Anglo French preservare, Old French preserver, and Medieval Latin  preservare, all of which mean preserve. Before that it’s the Late Latin praeservare, guard beforehand. The prae is just pre-, before, so the word is “to save before”. I guess that works.

Conserve also showed up in the late fourteenth century, coming from the Old French conserver and classical Latin conservare, which means (dramatic pause)…conserve. Yeah, not a lot of stretching with this word. Anyway, the prefix con- (from com-) is just an intensifier here—amusing aside: several common prefixes can also be intensifiers; I wonder how they decided when to use the actual meaning of the prefix and when to use it as word frosting. So with sevare, to keep, this word is to really keep. Not just save it, but conserve it.

TL;DR: Serve and deserve aren’t related to observe, reserve, preserve and conserve because words are freaking stupid.


Tuesday, March 15, 2016

From The Spamfiles

More spam posts. Yaaaaay!!!!

Look, sometimes it’s hard to come up with a post idea.

I’m wondering what kind of product he wants me to supply him with. Is it meth? Like some Breaking Bad thing? Because I could get in on that.

I actually googled Nokia and Microsoft to see if they were affiliated and it turns out, they are! Microsoft actually bought Nokia. And nearly every link had words like “disaster” and “loss” and “failure” in them, so it goes to show how well that went. Basically, they should not be giving away money in lotteries.

I’m not sure which joke to make here. How about that the name at the top is “Oaks Chambers”, the most not-name I’ve heard made out of real words (and also different from the name at the bottom; real officious). Or I could make fun of the disclaimer that comes with it, which says “any disclosure, copying, distribution or any action taken or omitted to be taken in reliance”. So many options!


Well, it’s really easy to make predictions about 2015 when it’s currently 2016.

So that’s it for today. What are your 2015 predictions? : )

Saturday, March 12, 2016


Another true story.
At least all the extra boxes gave the cats somewhere new to play.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Language of Confusion: -Lude

I actually did words that end in -clude last year, namely conclude, preclude, include and seclude. So now we’re doing words that are just -lude. I wonder if there’s any etymological relation! Ha ha, just kidding. I’m sure there isn’t.

Elude first showed up in the mid sixteenth century meaning delude or a make a fool of, not meaning evade until a century later. It comes from the classical Latin eludere, parry or evade. It’s a mix of the prefix ex-, out, and ludere, play—the origin word for ludicrous. No, not Ludacris. That’s something else entirely. Anyway, I’m not really sure about the evolution from play + out to evasion. Maybe because if you outplay someone you’re evading them?

Next, delude, which has a very similar history. It showed up in the early fifteenth century from the classical Latin deludere, which could mean “to play false”, to trifle with, or to mock or deceive. The de- prefix here means down in a metaphorical sense. I guess playing down at someone is deluding them. It almost makes sense.

Prelude showed up at about the same time elude did, in the mid sixteenth century. It actually comes from the Middle French prelude, which meant an instrumental prelude. Before that it was the Medieval Latin  preludium, preliminary, and classical Latin praeludere, play before for practice or preface. The prae- is pre-, before, making this one literally “play before”. Okay, now this one definitely makes sense. It’s a miracle! And it’s the same with interlude, where inter- just means between, so it’s between the play.

Collude showed up in the early sixteenth century, but collusion showed up even earlier, in the late fourteenth century. Collude comes from the classical Latin colludere, play with, while collusion has a bit longer of a journey. It comes from the Old French collusion and classical Latin collusionem, collusion. But that word just comes from colludere, a mix of the prefix com-, together. So when you’re colluding with someone, you’re playing together. Sure.

Finally today, we’re looking at allude. Like most of the words here, it showed up in the mid sixteenth century, coming from the Middle French alluder and classical Latin alludere, which meant allude in the figurative sense but also to play or joke in a more literal one. The prefix comes from ad-, to, so it’s to to play. Or to play to? Either way, I’m not really sure how one leads to the allude we know…


Tuesday, March 8, 2016

More Weird Searches

Weird searches! I love these. Finding out what people search for on the internet is always an interesting experience. And it’s been a while since we’ve done one of these. This is the first one in 2016!

How to tie a tie. Fair enough. It’s hard. How to be single. Don’t get why you have to ask that, but whatevs. How to screenshot on a Mac. I get it, Apple is confusing when you’re used to Windows. But. But. How to get away with a murderer. Not like the show, How to Get Away With Murder. With a murderer. Anyone else freaked out about this?

Is it possible to sleep too much? I’d like to be the test case for finding out.

It is possible to time travel. We do it all the time, going forward in time at the speed of regular time.

Sorry buddy, you’ve got herpes for life. Also, you probably shouldn’t be asking the internet if there’s a god. It’s probably not the best source.

A broken heart is best fixed by lots of ice cream. And revenge. Also, seriously, if you broke your toe, go to the frigging emergency room, what the hell, why are you looking this up online. Get a doctor.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Day 122

Sometimes I’m a little…overdramatic when my sweatshirt is in the wash.

In my defense, I get really cold. The minutes seem like days!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Language of Confusion: Feeling Mad

Today we’re looking at the origins for words of angry feelings because why not?

Anger showed up in the early thirteenth century as a verb and then as a noun in the mid thirteenth century, but back then it meant more to annoy or to be in anguish rather than how we use anger, which didn’t start until a century later. The noun is from the Old Norse angr (cool word, right?) and the verb angra, both of which are closer to the annoy/distress definition anger used to have. Both Norse words come from the Proto Germanic angus, which comes from the ProtoIndo European angh-, painfully constricted. Interesting how it didn’t change definitions until so much later. At least this one kind of makes sense.

Now, mad has two meanings, one meaning insane and one meaning angry. The insane one showed up first, in the late thirteenth century, and then in the early fourteenth century it started to mean “beside oneself with excitement” and then “beside oneself with anger”. Apparently replaced an Old English word for mad, wod, which was also spelled wood. And before you ask, no it’s not related to trees in any way. Going back to mad, it comes from the Old English gemaedde, out of one’s mind or foolish/stupid. That word comes from the Proto Germanic ga-maid-jan and ga-mai-az, abnormal. The ga- part is an intensive prefix, while the rest comes from the Proto Indo European moito, the past participle of mei­-, to change. So change became abnormal became insane became angry. Sure. Why not.

Fury showed up in the late fourteenth century, coming from the Old French furie/fuire, rage or fenzy, and classical Latin furia, fury. Yes, it’s related to the mythological furies, but no, there’s no real explanation as to why. The word is erinyes in Greek, where it comes from. Not an f in sight! Anyway, furia has a verb form in furere, which can mean rage or even heat. But don’t go thinking that word is related to fire or anything. No, fire comes from a word that starts with p.

Rage of course also has some weirdness to it. It actually showed up in the mid thirteenth century meaning play or romp, which is especially weird because pretty much everywhere else it has its standard definition. It comes from the Old French rage/raige and before that the Medieval Latin rabia and classical Latin rabies, which explains where that word came from. Although not why it has a g in it.

And now, to finish things off, wrath. It comes from the Old English wraeððu (not just one eth, but two!), anger, and wrað, angry. That word can also be traced to the Proto Germanic wraith-, and before you ask, no, that isn’t where wraith comes from. Don’t go expecting etymology to start making sense. The Proto Germanic wraith- actually comes from the Proto Indo European wreit, to turn. The origin word for wreath.

TL;DR: Seriously words. What the f**k?

Tony Jebson’s page on the Origins of Old English
Mental Floss

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

March Goals

It’s March already?! Man, for a month with an extra day in it, February went by awfully quickly. I’m beginning to think there was no bonus day at all.

Okay, what was I supposed to do last month?

February Goals
1. Either finish that stupid pattern or go insane trying.
Well, I haven’t finished, so you can pretty much guess where this one’s at.

2. Maybe write this time, dang it!
Ha ha ha, no, I’ve wasted my life

3. Do all the stupid miscellaneous stuff I have to do this month, like taxes and signing up for the Challenge reveal and finally learning how to spell miscellaneous. February seems to be a popular month for all the little extras.
I did this at least. It was a busy month. I think I need a few more extra days.

Okay, so that’s last month. What about March?

March Goals
1. Finish the pattern (again! Like I never work on it!). All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

2. Write! Please this time!

3. Get all my Challenge posts set up so they’re ready to post. Hey, I might actually be able to do this one!

So that’s the plan for March. What are you up to?