March 21…….

On March the 21st, 1754, British nobleman and author Horace Walpole coined the word “serendipity” in a letter to his friend Horace Mann. Walpole used it in reference to the Persian fairy tale The Three Princes of Serendip, in which characters continually make pleasant discoveries by accident. “Serendipity” was one …

Capital, Cattle and Chattel……

The medieval Latin term capitate denoted ‘property, principal stock of wealth’. It was the neuter form of the Latin adjective capitalis (the source of English capital) which meant ‘chief, principal’, being derived from the noun caput,‘head’. Capitate was borrowed into Old French as chatel and from there passed into Old …

March 11th…..

Why does the G in Margaret sound different from the G in margarine? Why does C begin both case and cease? And why is it funny when a philologist faints, but not phunny to laf about it? English spelling is notoriously clumsy, with its surfeit of silent letters, fickle i’s …