Category: Word origins

Looking for the Star of Wood on Six Moon Three Ten Sun Gold Day

The Lexplorers are always on the lookout for public multilingual displays, such as the neighborly and friendly signs that have been popping up in the area.   At the local playground last week, I was happy to stumble upon a set of spinny cylinders showing the planets of the solar system, with the planet names in English, Japanese, Chinese, German, Spanish,… Read more →

Book Review: Reading the OED

Reading the OED: One Man, One Year, 21,730 Pages by Ammon Shea Lexplorers rating: 6.5/10 Amazon.com average customer rating: 4.2/5 I have been on a bit of a lexicography kick lately, starting with some thoughts on words in the National Spelling Bee, and then taking an enjoyable tour through the craft of dictionary-making with Word By Word.  Despite enjoying dictionaries… Read more →

A Rheumatic Rhinoceros Rhythmically Ruminated On Rhododendron and Rhubarb

It’s rhubarb and berry season, and the Lexplorers recently shared a freshly-baked rhubarb and strawberry pie with a visiting non-native English speaker.  As we enjoyed the pie, we tried to explain to our puzzled visitor that rhubarb is one of those rare English words that begins with rh-.  We were unfortunately unable to provide any wisdom as to how to… Read more →

From Schönberg and Bel Monte to Belmont: Beautiful Mountains across the US

We recently spent time in two different American towns named Belmont, and that got us thinking about the origin of the name Belmont and its presence in many places across the US.  So today we put on our Lexplorers toponymy hats. On the surface, the two Belmonts we visited are remarkably similar, despite being 3,000 miles apart.  Belmont, Massachusetts is… Read more →

At the Corner of Thingvalla Ave. and Ericsson St.

Walking through a nearby neighborhood in Cambridge MA, I often pass Thingvalla Avenue, and I have been curious about the origin of the name. Thingvalla is not a traditional English-sounding name, and it stands in sharp contrast to adjoining Cushing and Exeter Streets.   Its intersection with Ericsson Street should have provided me a good clue as to the origin… Read more →