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lexical pursuit

  • chantier ('workshop') was the name the early French settlers gave to the hut in the Canadian forest which served as their headquarters; shanty is a corruption of chantier
  • a long time ago, a man of importance would entrust his closest subordinates with blank sheets or correspondence cards (carte blanche) with only his name at the bottom, for use in a crisis; carte blanche 'blank paper' had the figurative sense of 'full discretionary power' from 1766
  • to subumber means 'to shelter'
  • atom comes from Greek atomos 'uncut, indivisible' - based on a- 'not' and temneir 'to cut' and it is the smallest unit of matter that retains the characteristics of an element; a molecule is the smallest unit of matter that retains the characteristics of a compound
  • McJob is a low-paying job with few prospects
  • crumbs! is an expression of astonishment or dismay
  • clodpate is a combo of a clod and a blockhead

buy the book! Lexical Pursuit is a collection of a-really-interesting-thing-you-probably-do-not-know about thousands and thousands of words. The tidbits include word history and etymology, unusual or lost or uncommon words, grammar and usage, word trivia, differences between confusable words, and how words are formed.