Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Origins of words and phrases

For the first post I decided to post some random fun facts and origins of various words and phrases:

-The phrase, "dog days of summer" is named after the star Sirius because its located in the dog constellation of Canis Major, which rises just before the sun does that time of the year. Romans believed that this added to the heat during the summer, which is what made it so hot, so they called those days "dies caniculares", meaning days of the dog.
-The term 'clean the slate' actually dates back to the Latin phrase meaning to clean the chimney, or hearth, at the beginning of a new year.
-The English word "caldron" comes from the Latin "caldarius" which means warming.
-Sundials are very ancient. The English word hour is derived from the Latin and Greek hora, which in turn originated from the ancient Egyptian hor, meaning the sun's path, named from their sun god Horus.
-Our word 'Bible' comes from the Greek and Roman word 'byblos' meaning 'the papyrus' or 'the book'. Byblos was actually a seaport in Lebanon that exported papyrus.
-The expression 'reading between the lines' was given rise by 'Glosses', which were Latin bibles that had been translated into another language. The translation was generally written above the Latin, hence, reading between the lines.
-The English word apocalypse comes from the Greek word apokalupsis, which means uncovering, or revelation of something unknown.
-Our modern “Holy Bible” is called the full “canon” of scripture. Canon came from the Greek word kanon which meant reed. At the time, a reed was used as a measuring tool. So, the term canon came to mean, the standard.
-Our term megaphone comes from the Greek 'phone megale'.
-Our term for pharmacy comes from the Greek 'pharmakeion', which means sorceries. It more specifically refers to psychedelic drugs, at least in the modern sense. In ancient times, some priesthoods and oracles used psychedelic drugs (sorceries) in order to divine the will of the so called gods.
-Idol is the hebrew 'elil', meaning a 'thing of naught'. In other words, it means nothing. So who likes to watch American mean Idol?
-The Greek 'ballo' means 'to throw', which is where we get our word 'ball'.
-The Greek 'para' means 'beside'.
-In Greek, 'tele' means 'distant' and 'pathe' means 'feeling'.
-According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word panic derives from the Greek word ‘panikos’ and describes the reaction of those who stumble upon the god Pan in the woods and glades and run away in terror.
-The swastika gets its name from the Sanskrit word svastika, meaning well-being and good fortune. It didn't get its negative conotations until the Nazi's took it and corrupted it. Another interesting thing about the swastika is the symbol has been found in various ancient cultures worldwide.
-The word stadium comes from the Greek stadion, which means "a place to stand." I'm glad they decided to put seats in them.
-The word 'angel' originates from the word aggelos (pronounces angelos) and means 'messenger'.

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