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word trivia

  • the ultima is the last syllable of a word
  • vanilla was thought to be an aphrodisiac because its pod resembled the vagina - and the word vanilla comes from the Spanish for 'little vagina'
  • zodiac is from Greek zodiakos 'circle of little animals'
  • game animal refers to any wild animal that is hunted and suitable for human consumption
  • taper is a dissimilated form of Latin papyrus, the pith of which was used for candle wicks; now it is a long slender candle
  • to passulate is to dry grapes to make raisins (Latin passula 'raisins')
  • crayfish / crawfish is adapted from Old French crevice 'edible crustacean'; crawfish, like crawdad, is a corruption of crayfish

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.