Origins

  1. Getty

    Did You Know How This Word Was Formed?

    Words are funny things. For one thing, they are always changing. Consider lit , which, conventionally, refers to “lighting something up, e.g., a lit candle.” But, in slang, lit means something is “excellent.” It’s hot, it’s on fire—which are just more examples of how we play with words. For another, they keep secret stories of the past. Did you know  daisy literally means “day’s eye,” named for …

  2. Words You Didn’t Know Were Inspired By Animals

    Did you know that the word "muscle" is derived from the Latin word for “mouse?” And this isn't the only word in the English language that is unexpectedly inspired by animals.

  3. Getty

    Words You Didn’t Know Came From Los Angeles

    From its star-studded studios to its star-lined Walk of Fame, Los Angeles is a city that shines bright, literally and figuratively. There are few things that can’t be found within its sprawling, sunny city limits—it just might take a while to get there, depending on traffic.  Even if you’ve never visited, its influence is still apparent. Los Angeles’s films scream from our screens and its celebrities plaster …

  4. Getty

    The Month Of March And “Marching” Have A Historical Link

    Where did the name March come from? The name March is derived from the Latin word Martius (named after Mars, the Roman god of war). Martius was the name of the first month in the Roman calendar. It is one of the only months named after a god. While many have adopted the Gregorian calendar (The Roman ruler, Numa Pompilius, added January and February to the calendar thus making March the …

  5. Getty

    Words You Didn’t Know Came From Chicago

    Chi Town, The Big Onion, The Windy City. Call it what you will, Chicago is home to a herd of sports teams that could fill a zoo—the Cubs, the Bears, and the Bulls (and, oh yeah, the White Sox too). Not to mention it’s the land of deep-dish pizza and Chicago-style hot dogs. It’s a fantastic city filled with museums, shopping, and industry. This midwestern …

  6. Getty

    These Plain Words Have Very Odd Origin Stories

    Most people have fairly rigid ideas about what words mean, but the thing about language is that it’s constantly changing. Words that mean one thing today may expand in definition over the coming decades or come to mean the complete opposite of their current definition once a few hundred more years pass. Sometimes, words even change meanings entirely, leaving behind little trace of what they …

  7. Before X Was X: The Dark Horse Story Of The 24th Letter

    With its long, ambiguous history and multiple phonemes, the letter X is quite a dark horse. It can mean Christ, like the X in Xmas, stand for a chromosome, and even show up in friendly and amorous correspondence (XOXO). But, how did X end up in the alphabet to begin with? The origin of X Since its inception, the letter X has struggled to establish its own …

  8. Where Does The Name January Come From?

    If you were asked to pick which month is most often associated with deep reflection, you’d probably choose January. Known for recaps and resolutions, the new year starts with retrospection (as we bemoan past regrets and celebrate successes), then moves forward with hopes for the year ahead! So, in January, we’re all a little bit like Janus , the Roman deity for whom the month …

  9. What’s The Difference Between “i.e.” And “e.g.”?

    What’s the difference between i.e. and e.g.? They may be small, but their power to befuddle writers and speakers of the English language is mighty. The term i.e. is a shortening of the Latin expression id est, which translates to “that is.” It is used to introduce a rephrasing or elaboration on something that has already been stated. The term e.g. is an abbreviation of …

  10. How December Got Its Name

    Ah, December, that time of year when store fronts are festooned with holiday decorations, and another year is reaching its close. If you live in the northern hemisphere, December might mean pulling off your boots so you can curl up with your smartphone and read Dictionary.com (hey, we can dream). But, what does December mean in the Dictionary? And, where did the 12th month of …

SIGN UP FOR A VOCABULARY BOOST IN YOUR EMAIL
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.