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Cinnamon Origin

The Oed states that the word "cinnamon" derives from the Hebrew "quinnamon" whereas Brown-Driver-Briggs Gesenius says that the word most likely comes from the Malay "kayu manis...

Tutoring English To Chinese Students ...

Hi folks,I'm not sure if this is the most appropriate group in which to ask this, but there seems to be a lot of traffic here so hopefully somebody can help. There is a Chinese...

Flier/Flyer

As a quasi-synonym for "advertisement" or "poster", how would you spell it? Do you happen to know about the history of the term? It is used in French to describe those little sheets...

"Lightbulb Moment"

I've been mooching around a discussion board on a personal finance website, and when people have been talking about getting themselves out of debt they often refer to the "lightbulb...

Pronunciation Of "Elgin" And "Lagos"

Just been watching an episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and I heard these two pronunciations: Elgin ('EldZIn) Marbles Lagos (lA:gOs) (capital of Nigeria) Are these standard...

Symbol As A Verb

It has just been called to my attention that "symbol" is listed as a verb in dictionaries. The definition under "symbol" in all cases (3 dictionary references) refers to the (far...

Narrower Or More Narrow?

Hello again, According to our grammar rules the comaprison of "narrow" should be "narrower, narrowest". Is it also acceptable to use "more narrow, most narrow"? Thanks again. Bernhard...

How Not To End A Sentence With A Preposition...

I would like to rewrite the following sentence in a more formal way, especially without ending it with a preposition: "I have no toys for Jimmy to play with." Any suggestions?...

Tiny As /Tini/?

During my recent visit to the US (I am not a native English speaker) I heard several times different people saying something like /tInI/. From the context I initially guessed that...

Surgeon General's Warning

Do packets of cigarettes in the US still carry a Surgeon General's Warning? Do any types of consumables on sale in the US, other than tobacco products, routinely carry this sort...

Just Because ... Doesn't Mean

"Just because you want to go to the movies doesn't mean you can." "Just because you want to go to the movies, that doesn't mean you can." I've heard and read both usages. Is one...

Chimbley No Kidding!

I was watching our digital cable program "BBC America" this morning, when, I swear, I heard this British announcer say "chimbley" rather than "chimney". He was, of course, referring...

Historical UK Literacy Rates

Hi Can anyone point me towards any historical data on how literacy rates in the UK have changed over, say, the past 100 years (or preferably even longer if numbers are available...

Go To The Wall

A student asked me about the expression "go to the wall" in the sense of a failing business, and I promised to look up the origin. A couple of websites I find talk about laying...

Fake Onscreen Southern Accents - Why?

British actors have laid down some terrible American accents on celluloid: Michael Caine and Bob Hoskins spring to mind. And Vivien Leigh and Olivia De Havilland in ‘Gone With...

Verb Tense Advice

I was wondering if someone would be kind enough to comment on when, if ever, each of the following sentences could or should be constructed with each of the following verb tenses...

Eightish

I hear someone saying "I'll meet you at seven or eightish." I don't find "eightish" in dictionay. I guess it means "about eight o'clock". Can someone explain it a bit please?

Easy Peasy

The Br children's expression "Easy peasy", variants "Easy peasy, lemon squeezy" and "Easy peasy, Japanesey", doesn't seem to be on Quinion's site. If any explanation other than...

Origin Of The Name 'Google'

Origin of the name "Google" From time to time I read or hear stories of the origin of the search engine and company name "Google" that are incorrect, which prompts me to write...

Pronunciation Of Chinese Terms

Can anyone help me in the pronunciation of the following Chinese terms? Feng Shui I-Ching yin-yang ch'i Thanks in advance Eduardo

"Aye Mommy" - What Does It Mean?

"Aye Mommy mira mira":- Supposedly a compliment, in the same way that a wolf-whistle would be. Where does it come from? Is it from some US telly programme, or music? The mira mira...

British English - "L" Becoming "W"

I've been noticing when listening to British English that "L" is morphing into "W". I don't know for how long, but in words like "world" sounding something like "wowd". Anybody...

Rat-Catcher

Hello: Does "rat-catcher" also indicate a special costume? (John Last's nanny deploring the hunting event) She deplored it all, hounds, Master, huntsman and whippers-in, Miss...

"Desk Skiving" And "Faffing About"

Two new-to-me Britishisms, from an article in yesterday's Register: (quote) [link] skiving/ The Register Odds and Sods Bootnotes Brit workers excel at skiving By Lester Haines...

"Make The Nut"

OK. There's a fierce battle brewing in my family surrounding the phrase, "Make the nut". The phrase literally means "covering one's expenses", as in a business sense, but can be...
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