By John Ayto
The typical modern English speaker is aware 50,000 phrases. but stripped right down to its origins, this it appears large vocabulary is actually a lot smaller, derived from Latin, French and the Germanic languages. it really is envisioned that each yr, 800 neologisms are additional to the English language: acronyms (nimby), mixed phrases (motel), and people taken from international languages (savoir-faire). specified by an A-Z structure with precise pass references, and written in a method that's either authoritative and obtainable, be aware Origins is a worthwhile ancient advisor to the English language.
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Additional info for Word Origins
Yet as confusion started to come up among the 2 elements amber and ambergris, amber got here for use for either in all of the languages that had borrowed it from Arabic, therefore compounding the bewilderment. The French resolution used to be to distinguish ambergris as ambre gris, actually ‘grey amber’, and this ultimately grew to become the normal English time period. (Later on, the contrastive time period ambre jaune ‘yellow amber’ was once coined for ‘amber’ in French. ) Uncertainty over the identification of the second one aspect, -gris, has resulted in a few fanciful reformulations of the be aware. within the seventeenth century, many folks idea ambergris got here from Greece – for that reason spellings similar to amber-degrece and amber-greece. And until eventually relatively lately its a little greasy consistency inspired the spelling ambergrease. AMBER ambidextrous ambidextrous  Ambidextrous ability actually ‘right-handed on either sides’. It used to be shaped in Latin from the prefix ambi- ‘both’ and the adjective dexter ‘right-handed’ (source of English dextrous). Ambi- corresponds to the Latin adjective ambo ‘both’, which derived finally from the Indo-European base *amb‘around’ (an aspect within the resource of ambassador and embassy). the second one point in Latin ambo turns out to correspond to outdated English ba ‘both’, that is on the topic of sleek English either. WordOrigins. fm web page 22 Thursday, August eleven, 2005 1:58 PM ambiguous 22 different English phrases shaped with the prefix amb(i)- comprise ambient  (which got here, like ambition, from Latin ambīre ‘go round’), ambit  (from Latin ambitus ‘circuit’), ambiguous, ambition, amble, and ambulance. recorded time period for this kind of army sanatorium in French used to be the 17th-century hôpital ambulatoire. This was once later changed by way of hôpital ambulant, actually ‘walking hospital’, and eventually, on the finish of the 18th century, through ambulance. this feeling of the be aware had died out by way of the past due nineteenth century, yet already its attributive use, in words corresponding to ambulance cart and ambulance wagon, had ended in its getting used for a automobile for sporting the wounded or ill. DEXTROUS ambiguous  Ambiguous consists of the ambiguous etymological idea of ‘wandering round uncertainly’. It comes finally from the Latin compound verb ambigere, which used to be shaped from the prefix ambi- (as in AMBIDEXTROUS) and the verb agere ‘drive, lead’ (a prodigious resource of English phrases, together with act and agent). From the verb was once derived the adjective ambiguus, which used to be borrowed without delay into English. the 1st to take advantage of it sort of feels to were Sir Thomas extra: ‘if it have been now uncertain and ambiguous no matter if the church of Christ have been within the correct rule of doctrine or now not’ A discussion relating heresies 1528. ACID, ALACRITY, AMBLE, PERAMBULATOR ambush ambush  initially, ambush intended actually ‘put in a bush’ – or extra accurately ‘hide in a wooden, from the place you could make a shock attack’. The hypothetical Vulgar Latin verb *imboscāre used to be shaped from the prefix in- and the noun *boscus ‘bush, thicket’ (a notice of Germanic beginning, regarding English bush).