Pilgrims…

The Holy Land, the tombs of Saints Peter and Paul in Rome, those of St James at Santiago de Compostela in Spain and St Thomas a Becket in Canterbury were great centres of medieval pilgrimage. A pilgrim was easily identified by the way he dressed. He wore a rough grey …

Italics and old dictionaries….

I was about to write a terribly amusing post about that annoying phrase “pushing the envelope” when my eyes drifted up the column in the dictionary to entrepreneur. It was in italics because it was foreign, exactly the same as its gallic abecedenarian neighbour entre nous. So I flicked back …

Crap….

According to a popular legend, the word crap comes from Thomas Crapper, the supposed inventor of the flush toilet. The story goes that Crapper’s name was stamped on all his lavatorial devices, and when servicemen in World War I went to the latrine they would say, “I’m goin’ to the …

Geeks and Nerds….

Computer fanatics seem to attract pejorative words to describe them. (Now why should that be?). More often than not, they are words previously known in other contexts, but given new strength and life in the computer age. Geek and nerd both come into this category. The online New Hacker’s Dictionary …

To cut off your nose to spite your face…..

Paparazzi and gossip columnists aren’t new. News sheets, pamphlets and  satiric  poems  have  been in existence for centuries, often stridently attacking the Establishment. In late 17th-century France  no high-profile figure  was  safe from the chatty but vicious  observations of French gossip    Gedeon Tallemant  des  Reaux.  His  targets  included  the  King,  the …