This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Nuts and Bolts: albatross to zebra.

Crème caramel.

English is a magpie, avidly seizing on anything shiny or pretty and gleefully flying with it back to its home.

Doesn't this make English a bit of a mess?

Well, you could call it a mess...or a glorious muddle...or a clutter of curiosities. Chacun á son goût.

What's certain is that English is full of plundered treasures. Like these:

Albatross, albino, banana, baroque, breeze, buffalo, caramel, coconut, commando, embarrass, fetish, junk, molasses, pagoda, serval, tank, veranda, yam and zebra.

What do all those words have in common? Well, they've all arrived to delight speakers of the English language from, or via, Portuguese.

Oh, and has anyone ever stolen anything more elegantly covetable than the word caramel?

If they have, it's hard to know what it was.

Word To Use Today: caramel. No one's really sure where this word ultimately comes from, and some say it came via Spain rather than Portugal. Ah well, thanks a bunch anyway. Caramel probably has something to do with the Latin callamelus, little reed, which referred to sugar cane.  

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