Posts tagged with ‘etymology’

How now, nuncle!

Hot news of the day: I’m an uncle. My sister-in-law had a baby girl yesterday. So send positive mind rays in the general direction of Cheltenham, please. The word ‘nuncle’ is, as I expect you know, a variation of ‘uncle’ formed by mishearing ‘mine uncle’ as ‘my nuncle’. The same with ‘Ned’ as a variation […]

Birding the dictionary 3

Today we start with the word ‘plover’. plover (‘plʌvə(r)). [ME. and AF. plover = OF. plovier, later L. *plovārius belonging to rain, f. L. pluvia rain; in mod.L. pluvārius pluviārius; cf. Sp. pluvial plover, ad. L. pluviālis rainy, also Ger. regenpfeifer, lit. rain-piper, and Eng. rain-bird.] Belon, 1555, said the birds were so called because […]

Birding the dictionary 2

I’ve been investigating more avian etymologies, looking for things of interest. There isn’t much to say about most bird names, because they’re self-explanatory (oystercatcher, wagtail) obviously onomatopoeic (chiff-chaff), or just dead-ends. For example, checking up on ‘merlin’, the dictionary says: merlin (mɜ:lın). ME. [– AFr. merilun, aphet. f. OFr. esmerillon (mod. émerillon), augment. of esmeril […]

Birding the dictionary

I was watching a dunnock in the garden earlier and it suddenly occured to me that there might be a parallel between the word ‘dunnock’ and ‘ruddock’ – the old name for a robin. And having got that far, I thought maybe ‘dunnock’ derived from ‘dun cock’ and ‘ruddock’ from ‘ruddy cock’. So I got […]