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interesting things to learn about words

  • the fleshy cartilage between your ear and temple is the tragus and the downward notch is the intertragic notch
  • prestidigitation is a borrowed French word meaning 'sleight of hand'
  • cipher comes from Arabic sifr 'nought, zero,' which is from Sanskrit sunya 'empty'
  • brute comes from Latin brutus 'dull, stupid'
  • an unpronounced letter or letter combination is an aphthong
  • instauration is the action of restoring or repairing; restoration, renovation, renewal
  • banyan originally meant 'Hindu trader' and when European traders visited Bandar Abbas on the Persian Gulf, there was a pagoda in the shade of a large Indian fig tree - which is why they called it a banyan tree

buy the book! Interesting Things to Learn About Words is a collection of a-really-interesting-thing-you-probably-do-not-know about 20,000 words and phrases. The tidbits include word history and etymology, unusual or lost or uncommon words, grammar instruction and usage, word trivia, differences between confusable words, and how words are formed.