Thursday, May 30, 2019

Language of Confusion: Ugly

I did “pretty” words once, so I might as well do these.

Ugly showed up in the mid thirteenth century as uglike, which is awesome to say, I don’t know why we changed it. It’s Scandinavian in origin, related to words like the Old Norse uggligr (dreadful) and uggr (fear). The suffix part is from -ly, which means “like” and is a part of a lot of words.

Hideous showed up in the fourteenth century from the Anglo French hidous, and Old French hideus, which is from an older version of the word, hisdos. Once upon a time it was thought to be Latin in origin, but they no longer think that. Now they’re leaning towards Germanic, although they can’t actually say from where.

Gross actually has a few different meanings: a dozen dozen, amount earned, and also large. They’re actually all from the same place, and that includes the one we use for something nasty. In addition to the previous definitions, when it showed up in the mid fourteenth century it also meant course, plain, or simple, and from there it morphed to not sensitive, dull, or stupid, then course in a moral sense, then glaring, flagrant, or monstrous. Then in 1958, people started using it as slang. The word comes from the Old French gros, big, thick, fat, course, rude, etc., and before that, it was the Late Latin grossus (thick, course). And that’s all we know, because it doesn’t exist at all in classical Latin.

Nasty showed up in the late fourteenth century as nasti, and why does the I at the end make it look cute? It’s another one of uncertain origin, although some think it’s from Old Norse. Others think it might be from the Old French nastre, which means things like miserly and malicious, so maybe.

Vulgar showed up in the late fourteenth century from the classical Latin vulgaris/volgaris, common, from vulgus, common people. Vulgus can be traced to the Proto Indo European root wel-. So. Goes to show what everyone thinks about things that are “common”.

Finally today, disgust showed up in the sixteenth century from the Middle French desgoust, distaste, from desgouster, have a distaste for. The prefix dis- means opposite of, while gouster means taste, coming from the classical Latin gustare, to taste. If something disgusts you, you have the opposite of taste for it.


Tuesday, May 28, 2019

From The Spamfiles

Yeah, time for this again.

While I am amused at the whole “fReE” and “uNsUbsCriBe” thing (probably done to evade spam filters), I take more notice of the fact that if someone’s giving you nearly a thousand dollars’ worth of equipment, it’s got to be broken or stolen. If you’re not sure who the sucker is, it’s you.

Oh, if this message is from a trusted sender, I’m sure I can believe you.

Greg’s cash is arrived!

Okay, this one I want you to take special notice of, because if you notice, if you want to unsubscribe, you can click the link or write to their physical address. Can you imagine the insanity of writing to an internet spammer to get them to stop emailing you???

I have never met a single person named Lauren in my life who I’d actually want to talk to.

Local Ladies, LLC. It ships local ladies from their warehouses straight to you.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Snow White

Well, this was horrifying.
This isn’t the first time I noticed hairs that were way too light, but at least last time it looked kind of blond. This was totally white!

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Language of Confusion: -Pelled, Part II

Remember last week when I taught you all about words ending in -pel? I said things were going to get crazy, and I stand by that.

Want to know the first -pel word we’re looking at this week? Push. Seriously. It showed up in the early fourteenth century from the Old French poulser. Before that, it was the classical Latin pulsare, pulsate—but it could also mean to beat or to knock. It’s a frequentative (repetitive action of the verb pellere, to beat or drive, which happens to be the Latin root word for all the -peal and -pel words we talked about last week, from the Proto Indo European root pel-, push, drive, throw, or beat. So because of a word that’s essentially pulsate, pel- transformed into “puls”. We started saying the S like Sh, and lost the L. Because words.

Catapult probably isn’t all that surprising as being a relative. A catapult throws something, which is the gist of the pel- words. It showed up in the late sixteenth century from the Middle French catapulte and classical Latin catapulta, which is just catapult. They actually took the word from Greek, where it’s katapeltes (and also just means catapult). The kata- is thought to mean against (you catapult something against something else), and the peltes comes from pallein, which means thrust or pulse, and is from our old Proto Indo European friend pel-. Also, the word pelt comes from pelt (like, to throw, not like from an animal), but that should be even less surprising. It showed up in the sixteenth century, and again, is thought to be from pellere. Man, what a coincidence it would be if a word meaning “to throw” came from an origin other than the PIE “to throw.

Next is polish. Uh, no capital letter polish. It showed up in the early fourteenth century as polischen, make smooth, from the Old French poliss- and it’s root form of polir. Polir comes from the classical Latin polire, to polish, and is thought to come from pel-. I guess polishing does have a kind of driving, pulsating force. On the other side of pulsing movements is anvil. It comes from the Old English anfilte. It’s Proto Germanic in origin, but can also be traced to the PIE pel-, which makes it the first of these words that came to us from outside of Latin.

And if you want things to get really weird, we have felt and filter. Really. Felt doesn’t have an origin date, but filter showed up in the early fifteenth century, and is definitely from felt since it originally meant a “piece of felt through which liquid is strained”. Filter actually came to us through the Old French feutre, felt, and Medieval Latin filtrum, also felt, but that was actually taken from the West Germanic filtiz. Felt on the other hand came from the West Germanic feltaz, meaning “something beaten” or “compressed wool”. In any case, both those Germanic words come from pel-. Because it is “beaten” fabric, we have felt.  And filter.

Tony Jebson’s page on the Origins of Old English

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

From The Spamfiles

Let’s dig into the spam tin and see what lunacy the internet has churned out, shall we?

Honestly, for a second I was wondering why an enlarged prostate would affect your gait. Then I realized. With horror.

Okay, I really love this one. They’re so bad at English that they don’t know how to say “Do I know you from school?” It’s “Are you From Old School”. With an interabang. I don’t know what’s sadder, that they expect people to fall for it or that they wouldn’t send it out if there wasn’t someone falling for it.

We all know who lives in Lake stevens! Greg! Get down here!

Oh no way. “12 km” from the city? Clearly it’s a lot further than that, or you’d be using mile as a unit of measurement. Fraud.

One negative item out of seven million is actually pretty good.

Nice. It’s about time I benefit from charity. Usually I’m just contacted to give away money to them for the cancer widows.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Later Problems

We all know this isn’t the last time.
I’ve made this threat to Last-Week Me before, but she never seems to take the hint.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Language of Confusion: -Pelled, Part I

Okay, this started as me just looking at one word and kind of going down a rabbit hole. Bear with me here.

Appeal showed up in the early fourteenth century, although only in the legal sense—something didn’t appeal (as in, attract) until 1901! The word comes from the Anglo French apeler, to call upon or accuse, from the Old French apeler, make an appeal. Before that, it was the classical Latin appellare, to call, appeal to, or name. There’s another version of the word, appellere (yeah, with another E instead of the second A) which means to strive or prepare. The ad- means to and pellere means to beat or drive and can be traced to the Proto Indo European pel-, thrust or drive. It… kind of makes sense for appeal? It makes way more sense for all the other words that it’s a suffix to. But we’ll get to those in a bit. There’s another word I want us to look at first.

Repeal showed up in the late fourteenth century, another one from the Anglo French (maybe they’re the ones we have to thank for the extra A in the suffix). This time it’s from the word repeler, from the Old French rapeler, call back or revoke. The prefix re- means back and apeler is the same word as the one from appeal. So it’s to reverse an appeal.

But let’s go back to the pel- words. See, a long time ago, back when I first started doing these posts, I did words that ended in the suffix -pulse, compulsion and impulse, which are all from the classical Latin pellere. Because it was an early post, I glossed over things more than usual and didn’t even mention that it derived from pel-. But I’m saying it now: -pulse (and pulse) as well as the -pel words, are all from pel-. Dispel—the dis- means away, making the word “to drive away”. Compel—the com- means together, so it’s “drive together”. Impel—the im- is from en and means in so it’s “drive in”, like driving in an urge, I guess. Repel is much like repeal, except it came to us directly from Old French instead of Anglo French. The re- means away, so it’s “drive away”. And finally, propel, where the pro- means forward and the word itself is “drive forward.”

And just like that, I explained more in one paragraph than in an entire post. Anyway, tune in next week, because things are about to get crazy.


Tuesday, May 14, 2019

From The Spamfiles

Yay, it’s time again!

Somehow I don’t think this is going to help if you’re fed up with fake dating. For some reason.

You’re really mixing your tones there, Jasmine. Feels very tsundere.

Damn it, not Greg again. Although I was honestly more surprised to see the name “Karole”. That’s a new one on me.


Uh, okay. Congratulations on your skills? Not sure what you’re looking for here.

Fed up with fake dating? Have I got the site for you!

Saturday, May 11, 2019

New Purse

I have a lot of stories about my mom. She’s… certainly interesting. And it is almost Mother’s Day.
I don’t think I ever even saw her use it.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Language of Confusion: Matters of Luck

Feeling lucky today, punk?

Fortune showed up in the fourteenth century, coming from the Old French fortune and the classical Latin fortuna, which just seems to be fortune with an a instead of an e. It’s from fors, chance or luck, and is thought to derive from the Proto Indo European bher-, to carry. Yeah, etymologists aren’t actually sure that’s where it comes from, but they thought that “carry” shifted to “that which is brought”, which somehow shifted to luck. I mean, maybe.

Chance also showed up in the fourteenth century, meaning “something that takes place”, especially something “beyond human control”, which is obvious where the luck element comes in. It’s from the Old French cheance, accident, chance, or fortune, and that’s from the Vulgar Latin cadentia, “that which falls out”, referring to dice! It’s from the classical Latin cadens, falling, from the verb cadere, to fall, and can be traced back to the Proto Indo European kad-, to fall. So because dice fall, we have chance.

Luck showed up quite a bit later, having appeared in the sixteenth century. No one’s actually sure where it came from. It has no Old English equivalent, but it might be from the Middle Dutch luc, which is short for gheluc, happiness and good fortune. Frankly, that makes more sense than the fortune thing. Oh, and luck as a verb—like to luck into something—didn’t show up until 1945. I guess they didn’t luck into things before then!

Well, that’s all I have for this week. Kind of a short one, I guess. I’m sure we’ll be back to long-winded next week.


Tuesday, May 7, 2019

May Goals

Oh, man, it’s Threemilk already. Summer’s right around the corner. Not that it feels that way around here!

So let’s look at how badly I’ve failed my goals this month:

April Goals
1. Finish the notes from my beta readers.
Yes, in a minor miracle, I did do this.

2. Work on all the notes that I’ve made because of suggestions from my beta readers.
I…didn’t do this. Like, at all. I wanted to, but I just felt… creatively drained. Also just drained in general. April was a stressful month.

3. If I’m able to finish the first two notes, then I can start editing the short story I wrote last year.
Yeah, if I didn’t do the last one, you probably shouldn’t expect me to do this one.

Not very good last month. I really wish I could just plug myself in and recharge. It would make things a lot easier.

May Goals
1. Start making nots for my other WIP, because I feel more enthused about working on that project than my other one.

2. Hopefully actually get to the notes on WIP 1 this time.

3. Find something to do to recharge myself creatively. I have no idea what, though.

That’s my (hopeful) plan for this month. What are your plans for this month? What do you do when you need to recharge creatively?

Saturday, May 4, 2019


I’m going to be getting a lot of mileage out of this one. It’s payback for… basically the first ten years of my life.
Honestly, the only thing inaccurate here is that my brother lives in Japan, so obviously I can’t do this by phone. It just works out for a better visual gag.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Language of Confusion: Aged

Today happens to be my brother’s birthday. But not just any birthday. His fortieth birthday. And as someone who was constantly teased while I was little, let’s just say I’m enjoying this a lot. So let’s look at things relating to age, shall we?

Age first showed up in the late thirteenth century as a noun, and then in the late fourteenth century as a verb—although initially it only referred to an era of time, before also referring to how old someone was. It comes from the Old French aage/eage/edage, age or lifetime, from the Vulgar Latin aetaticum. That’s from the classical Latin aetatem, age, from aevum, age (like, a slightly different form of age). It can be traced all the way back to the Proto Indo European aiw-, vital force or life.

Old comes from the Old English ald/eald, old. It comes from the Proto Germanic althaz, adult, which is related to the Proto Indo European root al-, meaning grow or nourish. Also related are the words elder and eldest, which once upon a time used to be what we used when we wanted to say older and oldest. There’s also a tree called an elder, but that one isn’t related at all.

Senior showed up in the late thirteenth century from the classical Latin senior, which just means older. No real surprises in this one. But it is from the word senex (old man) and can be traced to the Proto Indo European sen-, old, which is the origin word for words like sir and senor, which is pretty neat.

Lastly today, we’ll look at ancient. It showed up in the late fourteenth century as auncyen, which meant very old people before also meaning very old things. It’s from the Old French ancient, old or ancient, and the Vulgar Latin anteanus. Now, that word is taken from the classical Latin ante, which I’m sure you all recognize and also means before. It’s related to the Proto Indo European ant-, which means front or fore [*ant-], but I can’t quite see how we derived old from that.

Tony Jebson’s page on the Origins of Old English