Stationary/stationery…….

  Those who have never liked the fine distinctions of English spelling will rejoice to learn that the first recorded use of the word stationery, in Nathan Bailey’s Universal Etymological English Dictionary of 1727, goes thus: Stationary – Stationers Wares The -ary -ery distinction was only introduced in the nineteenth …

The big cheese……

It’s a delightful little oddity of the English language that the phrase the big cheese has nothing whatsoever to do with milk products. The Urdu word for thing is chīz. This meant that back in the days of the British Empire Anglo Indians wouldn’t talk about something being the real …

Why do we cross our fingers?……

  If you cross your fingers when making a wish, or if you tell a friend, “Keep your fingers crossed,” you’re taking part in an ancient custom that required the participation of two people, intersecting index fingers. The popular gesture grew out of the pagan belief that a cross was …

A very short history of wallpaper……..

  Wallpaper originated in the latter part of the fifteenth century as a relatively inexpensive substitute for densely woven, richly embroidered tapestries. Bearing stenciled, hand-painted, or printed designs, it developed shortly after the rise of paper mills in Europe. The earliest preserved examples date from the year 1509. Because the …