ADVICE- This word is an example of French loan word. The middle English 'avis' got this form  French . Due to renaissance influence 'ad' Latin 'advisum' was added as original prefix to 'avis' and we have the English word advice. Read More Philology                                                                                                                                                
ALMS- Old English 'aelmesse' is derived from Greek 'eleemosune'. Middle English from of the word was 'almesse' and plural was 'almesses'. In fact ,'alms' is singular as 's' belongs to the original word.   
ARMADA- Armada is a Spanish word which means a fleet of warships. Its Latin correspondence is ‘armata’ which means army. The existence of the word in English may be traced to the warships sent by Spain against England in 1588.Read More Philology

ASSASSINATION- The word came into Middle English during crusades. Its origin is form Arab. The root word ‘assassin’ has been derived from Arabic ‘has ha-sis meaning hashish eaters. The specialization of meaning is due to the fact that in Arabia in the 13th century a sect of bandits, intoxicated with drink of hashish, would be sit up the Christian crusaders. The word presently carries the meaning as ‘one who undertakes or the act of secret political murder’.   Verb- assassinate

ANTICLOCKWISE- This is a classic example of hybrid word forming of affixation of Greek ‘anti’ (against) and the dutch word ‘clokke’. Thus, the word carries the meaning ‘against the direction as the clock’. Read More Philology

AUTORICKSHOW- It is an example of hybrid word forming of affixation of Greek auto (autos), which means self and ‘rickshaw’ (an abbreviation of the Japanese  word ‘Jinrickshaw)’.
[ such hybrid words are ‘dicta-phone’, television, automobile etc which are half Latin and half Greek].

BREAD- In origin, the word and its sound is old English which meant ‘fragment’. But later  by Scandinavian influence the word took the present meaning of ‘loaf’.  It is an example of incorporating new idea into the old existing word.Read More Philology

BLOOM- Similar to ‘dream’, ‘bread’, ‘Earl’, the word and its sound is old English ‘bloom’, which meant   ‘a mass of metal’. The new incorporating idea of ‘flowering’  is added to this word by the Scandinavian  word.
BRIDE GROOM- This is a compounding of two word ‘bride’ and ‘groom’. The old English ‘bride’ had its existence and has kept its meaning intact till now. However, groom (old English ‘guma’ meaning an attendant or any man) later joined to form the compound ‘bride – guma’ -a ‘bride groom’, the present form with slight change in pronunciation and spelling.Read More Philology

BIBLE- It is a Greek loan word coming via French. The original Greek word was ‘biblos’ meaning an  important scroll or papyrus. It is an 14th century coinage.
[such words include theatre, surgeon, logic ecstasy, idiot etc]

BISHOP- Towards the end of the 6th century a lot of words related to Christianity were introduced into English language. ‘Bishop’ is such a word whose Latin  counterpart was episcapus. By the process of ‘aphesis’ the old English got the word ‘Bishop’. Read More Philology

BOYCOTT- The very word is coined from the name of a person. The process of driving any word from the name of person is linguistically known‘ anthroponymy’. Boycott was an estate agent in Ireland who infamous for his extortion. Consequently the tenants organized a strike against him. Thus, the word takes the meaning of a strike which took the form of non-cooperation and social segregation.

BANG- A number of words in our vocabulary today, especially those which describe some kind of sound, are obviously imitative in character. This is perhaps one of the oldest methods of word making. ‘Bang’ is such a word of sound (strike). It is the word formed by ‘imitation’ or ‘onomatopoeia’. Such examples are  numerous. As a few representative ones we may take ‘pop’, ‘buzz’, ‘click’, ‘whirl’, ‘rumble’, ‘hiss’, ‘giggle’ etc. Read More Philology

CARGO- It is an instance of Spanish borrowing during 1650’s. Spain was proving best in the navigation during 16th and 17th century. Thus, ‘Cargo’  meaning the ‘freight of a ship’ came into English  quite understandably.

COMPANION- Here is extension or generalization of meaning. Literally it meant one who eats bread  with another person (Latin: con=with, panis=bread). But presently it means ‘close friends’, Thus the root meaning is entirely lost and the modern significance of the word has evolved. Read More Philology

CAMOUFLAGE- It is an example of corruption or misunderstanding of foreign language. The listed word is coined from French during 1st world war. However, the  original meaning is lost and new meaning is adapted. The origin is French word – ‘camonfler’ which meant ‘disguise’ or misrepresentation.

CHEAT- It is an example of degeneration of meaning. Originally it means a tax collector (escheator) in  Middle English. But these persons were notorious for  corrupt practices. Thus their meaning also deteriorated as the evil sense, which it bears today as verb. Read More Philology

CLIMAX- It is a Greek loan word but it has undergone a slight change in meaning in respect of the classical one. The Greek word ‘klimax’ from which ‘climax’ is derived means a ladder’ or ‘gradation’. In  English it is used in the sense of culminating point.

DREAM- In origin, the word and its sound is old English native which meant ‘joy’. Later the meaning is  added from Scandinavian source. Thus it takes the present meaning of ‘something which one seems to see or experience during sleep’. It is an example of incorporating new idea into the old native word. Read More Philology

DWELL- The origin old English ‘Dwell-an’ meant ‘to lead astray’ but by the Scandinavian influence it took on the intransitive verbal meaning of ‘to remain in a place’. It is a popular instance of incorporating new idea into the native word.

EARL- The word ‘earl’ and its sound is form old English which meant vaguely ‘a nobleman by birth’. By the Scandinavian influence the new idea of ‘an under-king or governor’ is added. The corresponding word (Scandinavian) is ‘Jarl’. Read More Philology

FOWL- Here is semantic transfer known as ‘specialization’. The original meaning of the word signifies  any kind of bird but through the process of specialization the meaning becomes restricted to only a particular species to be haunted for flesh.
[similarly ‘deer’ had the original meaning of any kind of animal; now it is specialized]

GOD- It is derived from the Old High German ‘got’ and subsequently the Old Norse ‘God’ even years  before the Christianity. It meant the power or powerful  person having supernatural power and  benevolence to human being. At the time of advent of Christianity the native word ‘god’, came into preference instead of Latin ‘deus’. The meaning is slightly modified to mean the ‘one formless object of   supreme adoration. Read More Philology

GOSSIP- The formation of the word is three terms. The first step is compounding and assimilation. The original word is god-sip which meant ‘godfather’ or   ‘intimate friend’. By the process of assimilation (like   gospel from ‘god+spell’), the ‘d’ was assimilated with ‘s’ thus making it ‘gossip’. The second step is the semantic transfer, specially degeneration of meaning. The word has developed a pejorative sense, for today it means ‘idle talk’ or an ‘idle talker’. As for third step, by the process of ‘conversion’ it shifts from  noun to verb.

GOVERNOR- In this word we can find the process of elevation in which the meaning of a word is raised from its original humble rank, and placed with a dignity.   The old English of ‘governor’ means a steersman in a boat but today it is the head of a state who steers the fate of an entire province. Read More Philology
Knight (O.E Cnight)- Original meaning – a boy changed meaning – a medieval title of gallantry.
Marshal (O.E Mar)- Original meaning – One who rears horses – changed meaning – highest military  officer.
(a)       Chamberlain- Original meaning – Chamber attendant changed meaning – high official position.

GOSPEL- It is an example of obscuration of compounds. After the conversion to Christianity there is a word ‘god-spell’ which later changed in spelling and  pronunciation. By the process of ‘assimilation’ in which the ‘d’ sound is absorbed by the ‘s’ sound and thus we find the word ‘gospel’. 

HEATHEN- It is an example of utilizing the native source along with the add of foreign component part.  The origin of the word heathen is ‘heath’ (old English),   meaning the bower; later it took the suffix ‘en’  from Latin word paganas (pagas – country + anus – dweller). ‘Anus’ is transfused into English ‘en’. Thus   ‘paganus’ which meant in Latin country dweller hints at non-christians as Roman do live in towns, the corresponding English word ‘heathen’ conveys heath  dweller or non-christians. Read More Philology

HOUSEWIFE- The old English ‘huswif’ means ‘the woman of the house. The original sense and the equivalent of the original pronunciation of this compound had undergone many changes and at the  modern time three words survive –
(b)       Housewife – the mistress of the house.
(c)       Huzzif – a needle case.
(d)       Hussy – a pert or wanton girl.

HENPECK- This is an instance of back formation the word ‘Henpeck’ is a formation of the word  ‘henpecked’ by subtracting the particle ‘ed’ from the back of the word. It is a mistaken notion because ‘ed’ is not a particle, rather, the integral part of the word. Read More Philology

HANDBOOK- Greek corresponding word is ‘kheiridon’. Similarly the Anglo Saxon devised a compound  ‘hand- boc’, which was formed on the same analogy from the native sources and was used by the clergy. In the middle English period the word handboc was replaced by the French (from Latin) ‘manual’. In the 16th century the Greek word ‘enchiredion’ was in vague. The word ‘handbook’ made its reappearance  in the 19th century.

HUSBAND- The origin of the word is Old Norse, ‘husbondi’ which was later formed the old English ‘husbonda’. It is a compounding of two words – ‘hus’ – a house and ‘buandi’ –   inhabiting. Read More Philology

HOLIDAY- It is an example of shorting of vowel sounds. It has been the typical feature of old and middle English. Here, the two words – ‘holy’ and ‘day’ are combined together – ‘holiday’. The vowel sound is  reduced here. Further, it is an example of fixed compound.

KINDERGARTEN- It’s a German borrowing in 1852. the original meaning is ‘children’s garden’. The famous educationist Friedrich Frobel used this word to a  special kind of education for the children where   natural and pleasurable method of teaching were introduced through games, singing and models. Thus, the word when comes into the English it bears this meaning. Read More Philology

KITCHEN- It is one of the earliest loan words from Latin. The Old English ‘cycene’ comes from Latin  coquina’. The word belongs to pre-christian period and the English tribes were learning the cooking items from the civilized Italy.
[cook, mill etc came at the sometime through the same process]

KNIGHT- Here is an elevation of meaning. In Old English both ‘knight’ and ‘knave’ meant ‘boy’. But at modern times ‘knight’ has become a man of military rank  with certain kind of dignity. It has also became a little of honour for valiant, gallant and chivalrous job. Thus from the old meaning of boy it has been  elevated to high position.
[contrastingly ‘knave’ has degeneration of meaning] Read More Philology

LANDSCAPE- It means ‘inland scenery’ has come into English from Dutch word ‘Landscape’ meaning  ‘view of land’.

LUST- The old English ‘lust’, German ‘lust’ and old Norse ‘lustu’ meaning ‘pleasure or delight are the origin. During 16th century the word went through   specialization and received the meaning of ‘immoral pleasure or delight’. Thus the word went through degeneration too.

LORD- It is an example of elevation. The ‘Lord’ has come from Old English ‘hlaford’ which meant ‘the bread keeper’ (half means bread). Thus from ‘the master of bread’ the meaning got its elevation to mean ‘God’ or any man of hight and exalted position. Read More Philology
                It is an another example of the tendency of monosyllabic in the English language.  

LYNCH- ‘Lynch’ or ‘Lynch Law’ has its origin to captain William Lynch of Virginia, about 1776. The captain was notorious for his forged justice and punishment.  Thus in this self constituted illegal court executed persons with no offense at all. The modern meaning of ‘Lynch’ is to ‘execute’ and ‘lynch law’  means arbitrary laws.

LIEUTENANT- The origin is French which has been coined during 14th century. The French ‘lieu’ means – ‘the place of’ and ‘tenant’ means ‘holding’. Thus the combination means the place of something, one holding.

LAW- It is the example of one of the many Scandinavian law terms which become part of the English  language. The most important of these juridical import in the word ‘law’ itself, known in England in the 10th century in the form ‘lagu’.
(By-law)- ‘By’ is the Danish word for ‘a town’ and is related to English word ‘borough’ – It is evident in the place names such as ‘whitby’. ‘selby’ etc. And the term  ‘by’ occurs again in the word ‘bylaw’, which is not, as some people seem to suppose, a lesser law, but a low made by the council or corporation of a  town or city, as distance from those which are made by parliament and apply to the entire country. Read More Philology

LACK-LUSTRE- (Shakespearean coinage)

LONG-SUFFERING- (Biblical – The Authorized Bible).

MEAT- It is an instance of specialization of meaning. ‘Meat’ is derived from Old English ‘mete’ which  meant any kind of food. Later the word become restricted   to the flesh-food only. The original meaning is still retained in two expressions – ‘meat and drink’, ‘sweet meat’.

MOB- It is an instance of clippings. The corresponding Latin phrase is ‘mobile vulgus’ which means  uncultured or illiterate people who often do riot in society. As a process of clipping only the first part  survives. The word ‘mod’ comes into existence in 17th century. Though it was first used as noun, now it  is also used as verb. Read More Philology

MANUFACTURE- ‘Manufacture’ is such word which is given a new significance by the passage of time.  The verb to ‘manufacture’ meant literally ‘to make by hand’. But modern usage nearly always employs it with the opposite meaning: a manufactured article and a hand made article are entirely different things.

OUTLAW- The origin is Scandinavian.

PEA- This is an example of mistaken plural and back formation. The origin of the word is Latin. ‘Pisum’ that takes the old English form ‘pease’. But by mistake ‘pease’ was taken as plural form, thus the latter ‘s’  was subtracted and ‘pea’ is formed as back formation. Again the new plural form comes to exist in  ‘Peas’. Read More Philology

PANDEMONIUM- (Miltonic) It is an example of hybrid word made up from Greek pan (all) and the Latin demonium (devil-land). Milton coined it as a name for the conference hall of all the devils, but as the devils were continually quarreling among themselves, so the that Pandemonium was full of  noise and confusion.

RENAISSANCE- Etymologically ‘renaissance’ means rebirth. By the fall of Constantinople in 1453, it was sparked off. The word signifies ‘a cultural  reawakening under the classical influence’. Read More Philology

SOPRANO- Like ‘piano’ the word ‘soprano’ came into English from Italian and it indicates the excellence of  the Italians in the field of music.

SMOG- It’s an example of portmanteau formation in which a new word is formed by adding the clipped   forms of two words [sm(oke)+fo(g)]. ‘Smog’ is the product of industrial civilization since the combination of smoke and fog is seen especially in industrial towns.
Brunch- breakfast + lunch, flurry- fly + hurry, slender- slight + tender.

SCAPEGOAT- The origin of the word is Tyndale’s translation of Bible. Biblically, it is the goat on which  the sins of the people were symbolically laid. There is two goats – one escapes and another sacrificed.  But by the mistaken interpretation of Hebrew word, ‘scapegoat’ is wrongly taken to be the goat that is sacrificed. Thus, now it means ‘one who is blamed or punished’ for the misdeeds of another’. Read More Philology

STANZA- Origin is Italian which means ‘the room of a house’. Etymologically it means a resting place. Its application to poetry (which is of course, the only sense   in which it is used in English) probably  depends upon the idea of a self contained unit, at the end of which the poet pauses or rests before  proceeding with his writing.

THEY, THEM, THEIR- The word ‘they’, ‘them’, ‘their’ are Scandinavian loan words whose old English  form is ‘hie’, ‘heom’, ‘heora’. Read More Philology

TELEFILM- It is a hybrid word of combining Greek ‘tele’ meaning far off with the old English word ‘filmen’ which means membrane. It is a coinage of 20th century.

VILLAIN- It is an example of degeneration – a process by which the word losses its original meaning and acquire a pejorative sense. The earlier meaning of  ‘villain’ was a boy who looked after a villa or a  cottage. As the time passed many of the boys proved to be dishonest and rogue; thus the ‘villain’ acquire the present meaning as rogue. Read More Philology

VIXEN- (a female fox) The original form of the word is ‘fyxen’. The ‘v’ comes from the Southern English dialect where they say ‘vat’ for ‘fat’. The word is notable for the example of the surviving old English feminine suffix ‘en’ or ‘ne’.    

                                                                                                                                                                                  Ardhendu De  


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An English Teacher;    M. A.(English) , D. Ed., B. Ed., UGC- NET Qualified

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