Posts by Rachel Bradley

  1. Do You Know Which Of These Words Were Inspired By People?

    Did you know the word sandwich is named for a person? That’s right, the lunchbox special enfolding all food groups between two slices of bread is named for the 4th Earl of Sandwich, an English aristocrat who lived in the 1700s. Words named after people are called eponyms. How acquainted are you with the people who inspired these words? Take this quiz to see what …

  2. Do You Know The Most Famous Words From Our Favorite Movies?

    Movies are remembered for their soundtracks, cinematography, costume design, and special effects. But most of all, it’s the dialogue that people love (and love to quote). Sometimes, even one- or two-word quotes become emblematic of the whole movie—plus they’re, like, the easiest to remember. Or, are they? Read these iconic words, then see if you can correctly pick the flick that they come from! If …

  3. English Expressions From India That We Should All Be Using

    English is a major lingua franca, but that doesn’t mean native speakers of other languages around the world don’t put their own spin on English. Generally, if English has been introduced into a community (through colonization, missionary work, what have you), that community will find completely unique ways to use and reinterpret it, to make it “local.”  India is a top contender for using English …

  4. Which Words Did English Take From Other Languages?

    English is a More Varied (and Delicious) Melting Pot Than You Think … English—is one of the most incredible, flavorfully-complex melting pots of linguistic ingredients from other countries that’s been left to simmer for (in some cases) centuries. These linguistic ingredients are called loanwords that have been borrowed and incorporated into English. The loanwords are oftentimes so common now, the foreign flavor has been completely …

  5. Can You Identify Literature’s Famous Opening Lines?

    The opening line of any book should say—in the words of Stephen King—“Listen. Come in here. You want to know about this.” Right? So intriguing! But, alas, that is not how books begin. So, how well do you know the actual opening lines from some of literature’s greatest novels? Correctly match these memorable openers with their works of fiction and consider yourself an excellent listener! …

  6. Pinterest

    Literature’s Most Lovable Grumps

    When life gives you lemons, make lemonade! That cheer-boosting adage works for some people, but others are perfectly happy sucking sour lemons. Literature is full of chipper lemonade-makers, but there’s something about those lemon-sucking grumps that draws readers in. Is it their angsty sarcasm? Their jaded world-weariness? Their stubborn dedication to doom-and-gloom even when everything else is giggles and rainbows? Are Negative Nancys somehow more …

  7. English Words From The Pharaohs

    Most people recognize Ancient Greek and Latin as the primary donors to the English language. However, some of the most ancient words in English actually trace back to Ancient Egypt.  Distinct from the contemporary Egyptian Arabic spoken today, Ancient Egyptian is a unique Afro-Asiatic language that doesn’t really share similarities with other languages in the family (like Arabic, Hebrew, or Berber). Its 5,000 year-old history generally …

  8. Foxy, Catty, Fishy: Are These Traits For Animals Or Humans?

    Catty It seems horribly unfair to adorable cats that catty is a human descriptor meaning “devious or spiteful” (and usually in reference to female behavior). What gives? The word cat has been around since the year 700. But then, in the Middle Ages, cat became one of the many offensive terms against women and was slang for “prostitute.” The association might have been made because …

  9. The Most Adorable Ways To Avoid Cursing

    Sometimes, there’s nothing more satisfying than belting out a four-letter taboo—or a string of them. When little G-rated ears are present, however, cussing isn’t an option (“flipping freaking frothy fudgecicle!”). Whether overhearing ears are young and tiny or old and sensitive, inoffensive swearword stand-ins are often needed. To help ease the burden of sanitizing your swearing (it’s tough, we know), we’re delving into the origins …

  10. Know Your Meme

    The Original Memes (Before Memes)

    The word meme, coined in 1976 by the evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, goes way beyond social-media pixels. Meme captures the concept of “cultural transmission” of ideas in general, where customs and ideas spread from brain to brain.  Which means memes have been around longer than Success Kid or Kermit sipping tea. Wildfire ideas have been around as long as humans have—in fact, discovering fire is …

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