History

  1. Getty

    What Is A “Ban”?

    The word ban gets bandied about a lot these days, from vegan brides wanting to ban meat-eaters from their weddings to plastic straws getting banned from coffee drinks. On an individual level, banning things we don’t like or agree with can be an easy way to rid them from our life. But, zoom out to a governmental and societal level, and bans become much more complex. What …

  2. www.spicejungle.com

    Why Is The Word “Root” In “Root Beer”?

    Is root beer the world’s most oddly named carbonated beverage … we don’t know, that award might go to 7-up, but we’re going to explore the naming of this soft drink regardless. What, after all, is the root in root beer? The roots of root in root beer The ingredient in root beer that primarily gives the beverage its distinctive flavor is sassafras, which is “the root …

  3. The Story Behind Saint Patrick’s Name

    March 17th marks the annual celebration of Saint Patrick’s Day, or Lá Fhéile Pádraig in Irish. The holiday honors its fifth-century namesake, Saint Patrick, Ireland’s shamrock-loving patron saint, who died on this date in 461 A.D. These days, the holiday is observed all over the world to celebrate Irish cultural heritage, which is ironic considering Patrick himself wasn’t Irish. Nor was Patrick his real name. …

  4. Getty

    Why Do We Say “Beware The Ides Of March”?

    March 15 is known as the ides of March. But why do “beware” them? What’s so inauspicious about this otherwise normal day? Why has this humdrum mid-month point become a harbinger of ill fortune? Where did the phrase ides of March come from? First, let’s talk calendars—ancient Roman calendars. Unlike today, the ancient Romans didn’t number their calendar days in order from the first of the month …

  5. Getty

    From Suffrage To Sisterhood: What Does Feminism Actually Mean?

    Falling annually on March 8th, International Women’s Day celebrates the progress women have made over the last century, and the inspiring women who helped make that progress happen. From the suffragist movement of the 1800s to the 2017 Women’s March in Washington, women have used the power of language and oration to inspire countless people. Early inspiration: the Enlightenment Early feminism was heavily influenced by …

  6. From The Grammys To The Oscars: The Stories Behind The Names

    Awards season kicks off each year in November with the Emmy Awards and culminates with the Academy Awards in February. (The Tonys are a summertime outlier.) Rare talents can sometimes win all four of the major performing arts awards—an almost mythic achievement known colloquially as an EGOT: an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony. There are relatively few EGOT recipients, but they include …

  7. The Surprisingly Religious Background Of “Golly,” “Gosh,” And “Gee”

    Gosh, golly, and gee casually express surprise or excitement, right? Well, yes, but when they were first introduced to the English language, these short words had a much more serious origin and purpose. Where did golly, gosh, and gee come from? While this folksy trio are informal interjections, they are also euphemistic alterations of the word God or, in the case of gee, Jesus. Of the three, gosh is recorded …

  8. Old School Latin Phrases We’re Still Using In Everyday English

  9. Learn The History Of The New York Times Crossword Puzzle

    There are plenty of crossword puzzles in publications across the country, but when we think of the pinnacle of puzzledom (Not officially a word, but, perhaps, it should be?), the purveyors of the most preeminent puzzles, we bow to The New York Times (NYT). For more than 75 years, the NYT crossword puzzle has been stumping readers with its clever clues and then sending them …

  10. Which Came First: Turkey The Bird, Or Turkey The Nation?

    The republic of Turkey (look north of Egypt, east of Greece) isn’t exactly a breeding ground for the bird that Americans associate with Thanksgiving. In fact, the turkey is native to North America … so, why do they share the same name? Let’s get the word facts The word turkey has been used to refer to “land occupied by the Turks” since the 1300s and …