Dot Wordsworth

The Sex Worker of Babylon

The first usage of the term dates back to the New York Times in 1971

By Dot Wordsworth

What does it mean to go ‘stir crazy’?

Only now I discover my assumptions about that phrase were wrong

By Dot Wordsworth

Can you gaslight a whole minority?

I fear gaslight is dangerously close to meaning ‘disagree with us’ or ‘suggest that we are mistaken’

By Dot Wordsworth

Where did ‘taking a knee’ come from?

The football tactic is also known as the genuflect offense

By Dot Wordsworth

How ‘odd’ became normal

Odd is Scandinavian in origin, Viking if you like

By Dot Wordsworth

How ‘furlough’ became mainstream

Ben Jonson spelt it vorloff in recognition of its Dutch origin

By Dot Wordsworth


Why ‘housewife’ is no more demeaning than ‘husband’

‘Housewife’ meaning ‘woman in charge of a household’ was also sometimes pronounced ‘husif’. By the 16th century it was worn down to ‘hussy’

By Dot Wordsworth

What do elbows have to do with fighting coronavirus?

Digging up reliable etymologies takes a lot of elbow grease

By Dot Wordsworth

We’ve been pansexual for a while now

Like ‘television’, ‘pansexuality’ is a bastard form, founded half on a Greek word and half on a Latin one

By Dot Wordsworth

What is a ‘tergiversation’?

The Latin for ‘back’ is ‘tergum’

By Dot Wordsworth

The link between politics and moisturizer

With some surprise I found reset has been in use since the early 17th century

By Dot Wordsworth

The origins of ‘whilst’

It started off by displaying what is called the adverbial genitive

By Dot Wordsworth

Who really invented the word ‘posh’?

People prefer memorable tales, especially those involving acronyms, to the truth

By Dot Wordsworth

How to define a dog

The variousness of dogs has ever been a leitmotif of dictionary discussions

By Dot Wordsworth

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