Honcho……

  It sounds like Spanish, doesn’t it? But in fact, it comes from the Japanese word “hancho,” which has its origins in Middle Chinese. “Han” translates as “squad,” and “cho” means “chief,” which is a common suffix in Japanese for words that denote leadership— “kocho,” for example, means “head master …

spiritus mundi……

The concept of “spiritus mundi” has its roots in the philosophy of Plato, but the phrase itself was coined by fifteenth-century German astrologer and occult philosopher Agrippa von Nettesheim. He used it as a label for the spirit element that he believed permeated the whole world and was the force …

Gung ho……

  In Chinese the word “gung” translates as work, while “ho” means “peace” or “harmony.” It was an abbreviation of “gongye hezhoushe,” the name given in the late 1930s to the industrial cooperatives springing up in rural China. It was adopted by English speakers to mean a “can do” attitude …

Chagrin….

  The origins of this word, which is used to convey a sense of aggravation, sheepishness, or displeasure, are widely disputed. Some etymologists believe that it comes from a rough leather of the same name (English “shagreen”), while others say it comes from a French translation of the German word …

bon mot……

    In English a “bon mot” is a quip or witty remark. The phrase crossed over from France around 1730 and became a fashionable way to describe the clever and amusing asides that entertained eighteenth-century high society. Oscar Wilde was later famous for peppering his plays with them. Sadly, …

What exactly is a balance sheet?….

  Well, it is an accounting convention, first recorded by the Franciscan friar Dominic Luca Pacioli in his 1494 blockbuster, Summa de arithmetica, geometria, proportioni et proportionalità. Pacioli didn’t invent the set of accounting techniques he described, which were in use in mainly Venetian banking circles, but he was the …