A Taste of Garden Etymology

7717687746_cb5f70b4a1_oToday, I’d like to pay a little homage to my vegetable garden. With all the rain and heat we’ve had this year, things are thriving. The tomatoes are attempting a coup and the cucumbers have made a break for the world outside the fence. Needless to say, I’ll be pickling and canning like crazy for the next few weeks.

But before I’m swept up in the harvest, I thought it would be fun to share a little garden etymology with you. So let’s dig right in! Continue reading

Nervous, Excited and Enthusiastic

happy_monster_by_pseudooctopus-d4rnfylAs some of you may have heard, the first international editors’ conference, Editing Goes Global, will be taking place in Toronto from June 12-14. Some of you may also know that I will be speaking at the conference. I will be co-presenting a session called “Introduction to Networking: It’s Not as Scary as You Think” with fellow blogger and EAC member, Sue Archer. (If you haven’t already, you should really check out Sue’s blog, Doorway Between Worlds.) Continue reading

Bacteria and Germs and Viruses! Oh My!

pandemic_risk_by_wirdoudesigns-d526a5cWell, dear readers, it’s the last week of October, and we are wading through cold and flu season in my little part of the world. In my household alone, at least one of us has been sick for the past three weeks. That got me wondering about the words we use to describe the nasty little organisms that make us sick. In a minute, I’m going to tell you about the etymology of three of those words.

But first, I have a little surprise for you. Continue reading

V is for…

Vampire_Zuko_for_Leo_by_Depsycho

Holy moly! Can you believe it’s nearly June? Wasn’t I complaining about the snow and the cold not that long ago? Well, I’m not complaining now. My garden is in full swing and I’m off to Toronto next week to attend the annual Editors’ Association of Canada conference.

Today, I’d like to bring you the next instalment of my Vocabulary Series. I’m going to visit upon you a veritable variety of vexing and vainglorious vocabulary beginning with the letter V.

This first word is a fabulous verb that conjures visions of indecisive sea anemones. It kind of sounds like the action it describes, don’t you think?

Vacillate (verb)

Etymology:   First appears in the 1590s, meaning to sway unsteadily. Comes from the Latin word vacillatus, which is the past participle of vacillare, meaning to sway to and fro or to hesitate. Its more modern meaning to describe an inability to make up one’s mind was first documented in the 1620s.

Definition:    To waver between two different opinions, options, or actions; to be indecisive; to sway unsteadily.

Example:   Viktor vacillated; he didn’t know if he should pursue the voluptuous blonde running down the hill or her vainglorious lover, who was heading for the forest. He flipped a coin.

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This next word is one of my favourite adjectives, in part because it’s so much fun to say. But it also makes a great insult!

Vacuous (adjective)

Etymology:   First appears in the 1640s, meaning empty. Comes from the Latin word vacuus, meaning empty, void, or free, which is related to the word vacare, meaning to be empty. Vacare likely comes from a translation of the Greek word kenon, which means that which is empty. Its more modern meaning to describe a person was first seen in the 1840s.

Definition:   Unintelligent or expressionless; lacking substance or content; empty.

Example:   With a disappointed sigh, Viktor cornered his dinner. The young man’s vacuous gaze meant Viktor was in for an especially bland meal.

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Seeing as we’re at the letter V, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to tell you about the origins of the words that describes one of my favourite monsters. Careful—the bonus word this week wants to suck your blood!

Vampire (noun)

Etymology:   First appears in the 1700s, referring to a spectral being in a human body who leaves the grave at night to drink the blood of the living while they sleep. Comes from the French word vampire, or the German Vampir, which is seen in 1732 in an account regarding Hungarian vampires. The French and German words come from the Hungarian vampir, which comes from the Old Church Slavonic word opiri. Similar words can be seen in the Bulgarian vapir and Ukranian uper. Franc Miklošič, an expert on Slavic languages, believed that the origins of vampire can be traced to the Kazan Tatar word, ubyr, meaning witch. However, Max Vasmer, who was an expert in the etymology of Indo-European, Finno-Ugric, and Turkic languages, disagreed.

The meaning that describes a person who preys on others—especially emotionally or psychologically—was first recorded in 1741.

Definition:   A reanimated corpse that leaves its grave at night to drink the blood of the living by biting their necks with abnormally long and pointed canine teeth; a person who preys ruthlessly on others.

Example:   As the sun began to rise, Viktor wished he wasn’t a vampire. He really missed eating pesto and sleeping in a bed.

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As always, etymological information and definitions come from a combination of the Oxford Dictionary of Etymological English, the Oxford Dictionaries Online, and the Online Etymology Dictionary.

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Linking up with this weekend’s moonshine
grid, over at yeah write.

Hey, if you’ve got a blog post that’s burning
a hole in your virtual pocket, you should
link up too!
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Image credit: Depsycho @ deviantART