Words of the Week

Have you ever wondered when certain words started to be used in certain ways? Or how they even came about? If they’re related to other, similar-sounding words?

I wonder these things all the time. And so, for years I’ve been gathering interesting words together, looking at the etymology, and posting them in fun, bite-sized posts called Word of the Week. Here you’ll find everything from which definition of a word pre-dates another, to how certain holiday words came about, to what the original meaning was of something we use a lot today but in a very different way. And of course, the surprising words that we think are new but in fact are pretty ancient, like “wow”!

The History of the Alphabet
The History of the Alphabet

Introduction My WORD OF THE WEEK posts have been bringing you word histories and etymologies for well over a decade. I always love it when a reader sends me a note asking me to look into a new word that they'd been wondering about. In my house, we've all trained...

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Word of the Week – Alphabet and ABC
Word of the Week – Alphabet and ABC

Here on the blog, we examine a lot of word histories and etymologies. But have you ever paused to wonder about the letters that make them up? One reader asked me to look into the history of the alphabet itself...which is quite a thing! Of course, I figured the place...

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Word of the Week – Radical
Word of the Week – Radical

Radical. Generally, when we hear this word today, it's being used to describe political or other views and positions. It means, in that sense, "extreme." And because it's used like that so often, we tend to think of it that way still when we hear phrases like "radical...

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Word of the Week – Fire
Word of the Week – Fire

Fire. This one ranks as a word used often and well known. So why, you wonder, would I look into the etymology and history? Largely because there are so many interesting ways to use it, both as a noun, and a verb, that have cropped up over the years! I thought today...

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Word of the Week – Rhododendron
Word of the Week – Rhododendron

During our Greek time a little while ago, my daughter and I translated a passage in Matthew that involved the word "tree." Or, as it would sound in Greek, dendron. Of course, as we're reading these words out loud, one of our primary interests--being word nerds as we...

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Word of the Week – Tongue-in-Cheek
Word of the Week – Tongue-in-Cheek

Have you ever wondered about the meaning of tongue-in-cheek ... and perhaps where this bizarre phrase came from? Well, it dates from 1856 in that hyphenated version, taken from the less-succinct phrase "to speak with one's tongue in one's cheek," which comes from...

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Word of the Week – Arctic and Antarctic
Word of the Week – Arctic and Antarctic

A couple weeks ago, I had a message from a reader asking me to do a feature on arctic and antarctic, because he heard they meant "near the bear" and "away from the bear" and thought, "Nah, that can't be right!" I love that I'm the word nerd that people turn to for...

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Word of the Week – Tedious
Word of the Week – Tedious

You probably know the definition of tedious: "tiresome because of length or dullness : boring." But the etymology of tedious is actually a bit more interesting and made me snort-laugh when I saw it. Tedious and tedium are from the Late Latin taediosus and taedium...

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Word of the Week – Minute
Word of the Week – Minute

Last week I took a look at the uses of second ... which led me straight to minute. I did mention in that post that the divisions of time were once "prime minute" and "second minute" ... well, along the way, "prime minute" got shortened to minute and "second minute" to...

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Word of the Week – Second
Word of the Week – Second

The other day as my daughter and I were watching her pre-cal lesson, the presenter (talking about the velocity of falling objects) said, "Now, in the second second, the object will be moving at..." Xoe looked over at me and said, "Why is it called that, anyway? Why is...

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Word of the Week – Reveal
Word of the Week – Reveal

We all know what reveal and revelation mean, of course...and they have been in the English language for a LONG time. Like, since the early 1400s. The meaning has never really changed either--it's always been "to disclose, to divulge, to make known." What's interesting...

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Word of the Week – Thesaurus
Word of the Week – Thesaurus

Today's word comes courtesy of the reading my daughter and I have been doing in our Greek New Testament. We came across the word for treasure (thesauros), we both went, "Hey! That sounds like 'thesaurus'!" To which I of course said, "Well, maybe we use it as 'a...

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Word of the Week – Stoic
Word of the Week – Stoic

Stoic. You probably know what it means: "a person who accepts what happens without complaint or showing emotion." I was in college when I learned that this was referring to a particular group of people who adhered to the philosophy of Zeno and then Epictetus, ancient...

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Word of the Week – Valentine
Word of the Week – Valentine

Happy St. Valentine's Day! But...why? Right? Why is February 14th a day for romance, and what's the history of the word? Well, obviously the name of the day is from a saint...two, actually. There are two ancient Roman saints honored with a feast day today...but turns...

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Word of the Week – Pregnant
Word of the Week – Pregnant

My daughter and I have been reading a verse from Matthew in Greek each day and then looking at the translation (after she does actual translation in her Ancient Greek textbook), just to see the language in actual use. Well, when one starts in Matthew, that means one...

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Word of the Week – Swear
Word of the Week – Swear

Swear is one of those words that comes to us alllll the way from Old English. In its original (and still a surviving) meaning, it's simply "to take an oath." You may wonder, then, why it's sometimes associated with "use bad language"? I know I have! That meaning is...

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Word of the Week – Mission
Word of the Week – Mission

When you look up mission in the dictionary, there are a LOT of definitions listed. A task a group is charged with. A calling or vocation. A group of people organized to carry out a certain task. A ministry. Then, in entry 5, you get the obsolete one: "the act of...

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Word of the Week – Religion
Word of the Week – Religion

The English word religion has been around a long time...like, as long as there was English. That's no surprise, right? And also no surprise is that it has always carried the meaning of "action or conduct indicating belief in and reverence for a divine power one seeks...

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Word of the Week – Pray
Word of the Week – Pray

One of my goals for the year is to spend more time in prayer …. But then, that begged the question of what prayer is, exactly. I always thought I knew, but it turns out I kinda didn’t. In my mind, prayer was an act of worship. But in fact, pray means simply β€œto ask...

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Word of the Week – Holiday
Word of the Week – Holiday

I've shared the etymology of holiday before, back in 2011, but I figured ten years is enough time that I can revisit. πŸ˜‰ I always find this one kind of funny...at least when people object to people saying "Happy Holidays!" instead of "Merry Christmas." My opinion has...

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Word of the Week – Decadent
Word of the Week – Decadent

Decadent. I don't know about you, but when I hear that word, I think of ooey-gooey chocolate ... maybe caramel ... something rich and satisfying and the highest heights of delightful. Turns out, I'm a victim of a 1970s-and-onward advertising hijack of the word....

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Word of the Week – Authority
Word of the Week – Authority

Last week I took a look at the etymology of the word author (which you'd have thought I'd looked up long ago, right??), and I mentioned its interesting connection to the word authority...which is, of course, what we're looking at today! To be honest, I assumed that...

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Word of the Week – Author
Word of the Week – Author

I can't believe I've never looked this one up before, but...clearly I hadn't, LOL. Because I was completely surprised to learn that author did not originally mean "writer." Did you know that?? Author has been in use in English since the mid-1300s, taken from the Latin...

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Word of the Week – Temper
Word of the Week – Temper

Anyone else like to watch Forged in Fire? If you're unfamiliar with it, it's a competition show where smiths are forging knives. So fascinating! Watching that show has taught me that one of the most important things for steel is that it's well tempered....

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Word of the Week – Tennis Bracelet
Word of the Week – Tennis Bracelet

We recently celebrated my daughter's 16th birthday, and one of her requests was to get her ears pierced. I got mine done when I was five, but I actually stopped wearing earrings after high school and just never picked the habit back up...so I thought, "Oh, I'll go...

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Word of the Week – Doggie Bag
Word of the Week – Doggie Bag

This one comes a special request from a regular reader (Hi, Bev!), who was wondering about the phrase "doggie bag." It's pretty straightforward, really, but interesting nonetheless! The phrase is first recorded in the 1960s, for a take-home container of leftovers from...

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Word of the Week – Ghost
Word of the Week – Ghost

It's October! So I thought it would be fun to take a look at some of the words you're going to be encountering in this season. Whether you celebrate Halloween or just the harvest (or nothing at all), I think you'll agree that the etymologies this month are...

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Word of the Week – Demon
Word of the Week – Demon

We're continuing our October look into spooky words today...with demon. I don't know about you, but for me, this word conjures up a WHOLE different level of fear. Ghosts and spooks are words assigned to human spirits, but demon...that's a whole different supernatural...

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Word of the Week – Spooky
Word of the Week – Spooky

It’s October! So I thought it would be fun to take a look at some of the words you’re going to be encountering in this season. Whether you celebrate Halloween or just the harvest (or nothing at all), I think you’ll agree that the etymologies this month are...

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Word of the Week – Galaxy
Word of the Week – Galaxy

Did you know that galaxy is from the Greek word for milk? I didn't! Given that our galaxy is the Milky Way though, I wasn't terribly surprised. The original Greek phrase was in fact galaxias kyklos, meaning "milky circle." The term made its way into Latin, and from...

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Word of the Week – Utopia
Word of the Week – Utopia

I daresay we all know what I mean when I say the word Utopia, right. It's a perfect society. We all know it's pretty much mythical, much like the one Socrates outlines in "The Republic." And we probably also know the word was coined by Thomas Moore when he wrote a...

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Word of the Week – Parable and Parabola
Word of the Week – Parable and Parabola

Did you ever pause to consider that parable and parabola come from the same root? I don't think I've ever really thought about it, until my husband brought it up the other day. He was talking about parables and used the adjective parabolic to describe it...and then...

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Word of the Week – Postmodern
Word of the Week – Postmodern

Today's Word of the Week actually came in as a special request...and I admit it's a word I've always just shrugged off too. What, exactly, do people mean when they toss around postmodern or postmodernism in their conversations? Turns out, the word can mean different...

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Word of the Week – Smithereens
Word of the Week – Smithereens

My mom sent me this one, so of course I had to look into it! I found the explanation pretty quick, but nevertheless enlightening, so let's take a look! Smithereens dates from 1810 and has always meant "small fragments." No surprise there. But where does it come from?...

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Word of the Week – Dunce
Word of the Week – Dunce

I looked up the word dunce during my marathon writing session for the final book in the Secrets of the Isles trilogy, just to make sure I hadn't been using it for years when I shouldn't have been (because those sneak in!), and I was fascinated at what I learned! It...

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Word of the Week – Plugging
Word of the Week – Plugging

The other week at one of our tea parties, a guest asked me how my writing was going, and I said, β€œOh, you know. Plugging away at it.” My daughter, who always joins us for these parties, looked over at me like I was crazy and said, β€œPlugging? Seriously? That’s a...

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Word of the Week – Algebra and Algorithm
Word of the Week – Algebra and Algorithm

Did you know that algebra and algorithm are not only related, but both derived from a (mangled) translation of a mathematician? Yep! In the 9th century, a Baghdad scholar named Abu Ja'far Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi wrote a famous treatise on mathematics that...

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Word of the Week – Surname
Word of the Week – Surname

My daughter asked me a few weeks ago why a last name is called a surname. I had no idea...but of course declared, "Word of the week!" and promptly looked it up. πŸ˜‰ And it's both straightforward and not. Sur is Latin for "above," so the original meaning of surname was...

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Word of the Week – Vacation
Word of the Week – Vacation

It's summertime in the northern hemisphere, our kids are out of school, so many of us are thinking about one of our favorite things...VACATION! But have you stopped to wonder about the history of the word? I actually first took a look at it back in 2012, but it was...

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Word of the Week – Motivation
Word of the Week – Motivation

I actually first looked at the etymology of motivation back in 2012, but...that's been a long time ago, LOL. And since summers can be a weird time of either little motivation or super-charged motivation, I figured it was a great time to revisit. Did you know that...

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Word of the Week – Infant
Word of the Week – Infant

We all know what an infant is--a newborn baby. Pretty simple. What I didn't realize was that it actually comes from the Latin in meaning "not" and fari meaning "to speak." So it literally means "unable to speak." Who knew? Historically, infant in Latin meant a babe in...

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Word of the Week – Delight
Word of the Week – Delight

You know how I often begin these posts by telling you about how my family was talking about this or that word, and I guess as to how it evolved, and I was right? Yeah...not the case this time at all. πŸ˜‰ As it turns out, delight has nothing to do with light, as I was...

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Word of the Week – Cobbler
Word of the Week – Cobbler

Ever wonder how two very different meanings get attached to the same word? Cobbler is a perfect example. Historically, a cobbler is someone who mends shoes and has been such since the late 1300s. Cobbler and cobble (the verb) seem to have evolved together in English,...

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Word of the Week – Travesty
Word of the Week – Travesty

Thanks to how similar travesty sounds to tragedy, I think I was always laboring under some false ideas about this one...especially because it often is a tragedy when something is also a travesty. Travesty, however, comes from the Latin and Italian words that mean "to...

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Word of the Week – Patience and Passion
Word of the Week – Patience and Passion

I've shared before about the real meaning of passion and how its word actually means "suffering"--so the things we're passionate about are the things we're willing to suffer for. Well in a church conversation recently, my husband wondered aloud whether patience--which...

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Word of the Week – Habit, Habitat, Inhabit
Word of the Week – Habit, Habitat, Inhabit

A while back, my husband and I were wondering how habit and habitat were related. Clearly they share a root, but what's the common idea between them? Well, we were wondering it at bedtime, so I didn't immediately go and look it up, but eventually I remembered to. ;-)...

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Word of the Week – Option
Word of the Week – Option

I absolutely love getting notes from readers, especially when they're about word usages...even if they tell me I'm using something incorrectly, LOL. I make mistakes just like anybody, of course, but when someone points something out to me, I immediately go and look it...

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Word of the Week – Kudos
Word of the Week – Kudos

This week and next, I'm going to be highlighting a couple words that readers brought up with me. This first one, kudos, led to a great conversation and a delightful new friendship (hi, Pat!). You just never know what may happen when two word-nerds meet! πŸ˜‰ I actually...

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Word of the Week – Gyro
Word of the Week – Gyro

Let me start by saying that gyroscopes are cool. Right? I've always been intrigued and impressed by the mechanics of them. Circles and spheres working with gravity...yep, very cool indeed. Now let's jump to the county fair last summer, which didn't run entirely thanks...

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Word of the Week – Evolution
Word of the Week – Evolution

In The Nature of a Lady, my heroine, Lady Elizabeth "Libby" Sinclair, is a naturalist. She not only loves nature--as in, being out in it and enjoying it--she loves studying nature. Her most prized possession is a microscope, and she spends much of her holiday on St....

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Word of the Week – Dreckly
Word of the Week – Dreckly

So here's the nutshell version: dreckly is just the Cornish way of saying "directly." The end. Shortest post in history. πŸ˜‰ Okay, so a liiiiittle bit more. The word directly has of course been in the English language for a good long time. In the 1300s, it meant...

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Word of the Week – Dearover and Dearovim
Word of the Week – Dearover and Dearovim

Whenever I write a book set in a region with a dialect (or even a language) all its own, I love to look up endearments and slang unique to them. I first looked up Cornish words when I wrote A Name Unknown, set near Land's End in Cornwall. Well, I got to dust off that...

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Word of the Week – Incomer
Word of the Week – Incomer

In the weeks surrounding the release of The Nature of a Lady, I thought it would be fun to take a look at some words that appear in the book. We're going to start by looking at a few of the Cornish slang words that make an appearance. =) And given that my heroine is a...

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Word of the Week – Gloomy
Word of the Week – Gloomy

Words that Shakespeare Coined Did you know that gloom was originally a verb? Yeah, neither did I. πŸ˜‰ It's apparently a Scottish word that originally meant "to look sullen or displeased," dating from the 14th century. Well, in the late 1500s, Shakespeare got ahold of...

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Word of the Week – Elbow
Word of the Week – Elbow

Words that Shakespeare Coined Elbow. No, not the noun. πŸ˜‰ That one has obviously been around for a while...from around 1200, as a matter of fact, in Old English. El is the length of the forearm, and bow comes from boga, which means "arch." Shakespeare, however, was...

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Word of the Week – Dauntless
Word of the Week – Dauntless

Words that Shakespeare Coined Dauntless. To understand the evolution of this word, we actually have to begin with daunt. This verb dates to the 14th century, taken from French (which is taken from Latin), meaning "to subdue or tame." It was a word generally used for...

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Word of the Week – Cold-hearted
Word of the Week – Cold-hearted

This week begins a fun series on words that Shakespeare coined! The words themselves may or may not have a lot of interesting etymology otherwise...but they're making this list simply because they were introduced to us by the Bard. πŸ˜‰ Cold-hearted is one such word,...

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Word of the Week – Scavenge and Scavenger
Word of the Week – Scavenge and Scavenger

Scavenge and scavenger are another example of words whose progression surprised me. Back-formations do that to me a lot. πŸ˜‰ I guess I always assumed the verb came first--first there was scavenging and then the one who did it became known as a scavenger. Nope. And in...

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Word of the Week – Zany
Word of the Week – Zany

Zany. We probably all think of it as "comic, acting like a buffoon to entertain others." But did you know that it was actually originally a person (so a noun) in a comedy? Yep! A zany has been a comic performer since the 1580s. But you may be wondering where the word...

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Word of the Week – Doldrums
Word of the Week – Doldrums

Doldrums. Interestingly, this is a plural word that has no singular...anymore. Once upon a time, there was indeed a singular version, and a doldrum was a "dull person." (Dol is a variation of dull.) Over time, however, that meaning disappeared, and was replaced...

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Word of the Week – Baguette
Word of the Week – Baguette

This one comes to you courtesy of fellow author and friend Rhonda Ortiz, who happened to mention in an email that baguette is a relatively new word. I'd never stopped to ponder when the famous French loaf may have come to be--in my mind, as long as there's been Paris,...

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Word of the Week – Cardinal
Word of the Week – Cardinal

The history of the word cardinal in English is rather interesting. It comes from the Latin cardinalis, meaning "chief, principal." But it first came over to English not as an adjective with that meaning, but as the noun--as in, the order in the Church. Since the 12th...

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Word of the Week – Problematic
Word of the Week – Problematic

Did you know that the most-used definition of problematic--namely, "constituting or causing difficulty"--only dates from around the 1960s?? I didn't! But as it turns out, that use is directly taken from a word coined for use in sociology. So what, you may ask, did the...

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Word of the Week – Martial
Word of the Week – Martial

Unlike mercurial of last week, martial is a word I use plenty--I imagine we all do. And I even knew where this one came from, LOL. Martial means "warlike; pertaining to war" and for good reason--it comes from the Roman god Mars, the god of war. What I didn't realize...

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Word of the Week – Mercurial
Word of the Week – Mercurial

Ready for the next installment of our "adjectives from mythology" series? Today we're taking a look at a word I honestly don't use very often. In fact, if one of my kids were to ask, "What does mercurial mean?" I probably would have given them a look and said, "Why...

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Word of the Week – Jovial
Word of the Week – Jovial

For the next couple weeks, I'm going to do a little mini-series on some adjectives we have that are based on the names of ancient mythological gods. As I was reading through a list of some of these, I found it so fascinating! So we'll start off with Zeus. Now, I know...

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Word of the Year – Intentional
Word of the Year – Intentional

As 2020 wound to a close, my best friend and I were talking about a Word for the year to come. I mentioned how I usually come to mine...namely, I pray about it and wait for something to strike me--or not. She, on the hand, prayerfully CHOOSES one. Something she means...

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Holiday History ~ The Twelve Days of Christmas
Holiday History ~ The Twelve Days of Christmas

These days, all the hype is leading up to Christmas. So much so that on December 26, it feels kinda like a letdown, right? The all-Christmas-music-all-the-time radio stations are back to normal programming. Some people start taking down decorations. By the time New...

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Holiday History ~ Boxing Day
Holiday History ~ Boxing Day

So...what's Boxing Day? Though our friends across the pond don't even have to ask, we Americans may scratch our heads a bit at this one. We know that it is, just not necessarily what it is. From reading, I knew that Boxing Day was the day after Christmas, which,...

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Holiday History ~ Noel
Holiday History ~ Noel

When I was asking you all for suggestions of holiday words or traditions you'd like to learn more about, someone suggested "Noel." I knew this was the French word for Christmas, but I admit that's where my knowledge ended, so it was fun to learn more! Noel does indeed...

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Holiday History ~ Merry Vs. Happy
Holiday History ~ Merry Vs. Happy

Have you ever wondered why in America we say "Merry Christmas" instead of "Happy Christmas," when "happy" is the wish of choice for other holidays? Experts don't completely agree on the why of this, but they have some good ideas. First of all, the history. We can date...

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Word of the Week – Cornucopia
Word of the Week – Cornucopia

We probably all know that cornucopia literally means "horn of plenty," from the Latin.Β  And it's been a traditional symbol of Thanksgiving and a fruitful harvest since...well...forever. But do you know the actual history of it? I didn't! The story of the cornucopia...

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Word of the Week – Monster
Word of the Week – Monster

A couple weeks ago as Halloween stuff was everywhere, my family was talking one night about the word monster and where it might have come from. We were musing that since it ends in -ster, and -ster usually indicates "someone who does a particular task" (like spinster...

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Word of the Week – Story
Word of the Week – Story

I'm sure we've all noticed that history and story look mighty similar. Well, for good reason--they're both taken directly from the same French word, estoire or estorie,which came in turn from Latin and Greek. The literal meaning is "a chronicle of events," and has...

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Word of the Week – Caffeine
Word of the Week – Caffeine

Last week, my son and I were (for some reason I can't recall) talking about caffeine, and how it occurs naturally in coffee. Which led him to ask, "Is that where the word caffeine comes from? From coffee?" Insert me going, "Huh. You know, I bet it does..." and pulling...

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Word of the Week – Disgruntled + Gruntle
Word of the Week – Disgruntled + Gruntle

I saw a Facebook post a couple weeks ago in which someone realized disgruntled was the opposite of gruntled--a word they'd never heard before, but which they were "very gruntled to learn about." I got a good laugh out of it...so naturally, had to look it up. Though in...

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Word of the Week – Greg (That’s Right, Greg)
Word of the Week – Greg (That’s Right, Greg)

Did you know that greg is Latin for "flock or herd"? Yeah, neither did I. πŸ˜‰ But that then makes sense when we look at some of the words that have greg as their root: Congregate - to come together as a groupSegregate - to separate from a group And then the one that...

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Word of the Week – The Dickens
Word of the Week – The Dickens

A phrase from the archives today...Original post published 2/20/2017 Another special request today, though there isn't quite as much information on it as there was on last week's . . . The question was where the expression "the dickens" comes from. Well, the answer's...

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Word of the Week – Decimate
Word of the Week – Decimate

So let's look at the word decimate. We all know what it means--"to utterly destroy." Right? Well, as it turns out, yes--but. There's always a "but," right? LOL. Decimate actually has a much more precise meaning that I was completely unaware of. If we look at the root...

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Word of the Week – Myriad and Million
Word of the Week – Myriad and Million

When we think aboutΒ  numbers, we don't often consider that once upon a time, they didn't go very high. But in fact, in ancient days, there weren't words for anything greater than "ten thousand." In the Ancient Greek and Roman eras, this was the largest number known,...

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Mock Latin Words 5
Mock Latin Words 5

I hope you've enjoyed the Mock Latin series! This is my final installment, and only one is mock Latin. The other two are just "mock" in general, but they were fun, so I thought I'd include them. πŸ˜‰ Asquatulate - This is another word meant to poke fun at the person...

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Mock Latin Words 4
Mock Latin Words 4

Nearly through our Mock Latin series! I just have one more week of them after this one. πŸ˜‰ Today we begin with a word I have used all the time, never realizing it was one of these "fake" constructions! Discombobulate - So obviously this is a fun word, which is why I...

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Mock Latin Words 3
Mock Latin Words 3

Time for the third installment of the Mock Latin series! Omnium gatherum ~ So technically, this one is only partly "mock." πŸ˜‰ Omnium is indeed a Latin word for "of all things." Kind of like miscellaneous. In the 1520s (this one is OLD!), people came up with the...

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Mock Latin Words 2
Mock Latin Words 2

Today we're continuing our Mock Latin series with a few more totally fabricated, totally joke words that make me smile. =) Cruciverbalist - Our first word is actually quite new, dating from 1977. If you look at the parts of the word, we have the roots crux which means...

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Mock Latin Words 1
Mock Latin Words 1

After looking at circumbendibus last week, I decided it would be fun to do a series on Mock Latin words ~ words deliberately made up to sound like Latin even though they're not. Since they're completely fake, LOL, the etymology on these isn't very long, so I'm going...

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Word of the Week – Circumbendibus
Word of the Week – Circumbendibus

Circumbendibus. How fun is that word? You can almost guess the meaning just by listening to it, can't you? This is another selection from that Colonial-era word list I saw, and I absolutely LOVE this one. Circumbendibus simply means "a roundabout way or process." Like...

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Word of the Week – Jollification
Word of the Week – Jollification

It's my birthday week, so I thought it would a fun time to look at this old-fashioned word, popular in the Colonial American era. =) Jollification is literally "making merry," from jolly + -ication ("to make") and dates from the 1760s. Though the adjective "jolly" had...

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Word of the Week – Savvy
Word of the Week – Savvy

I recently saw a list of fun Colonial-era words that we should totally bring back into use.Β  One of them was savvy, which anyone who watched Pirates of the Caribbean can hear in Jack Sparrow's voice. Well, just for the record, Jack was totally using it appropriately....

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Word of the Week – Grand
Word of the Week – Grand

A couple weeks ago, my husband said something about something costing "Ten Gs" and my mother-in-law said, "Where does that come from, anyway?" Cue the chime of "Word of the week!" from my kids, LOL. So obviously we knew that "G" was just short for grand. But why and...

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Word of the Week – Cushy
Word of the Week – Cushy

A couple weeks ago a friend sent me a list of "18 English Words That Are Actually Hindi," and while quite a few of them I knew that about, others really surprised me. One of those was cushy. I knew that cushy meant "soft" and so I think I always imagined it came from...

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Word of the Week – Hot Dog
Word of the Week – Hot Dog

(A revisit from 2012) Is summer hot dog season in your family? This year we've started grilling out on our campfire ring every Sunday with my mother-in-law, and hot dogs are pretty much always on the menu. But have you ever wondered where they got their name? Well, a...

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Word of the Week – Quantum
Word of the Week – Quantum

I'm currently reading Siri Mitchell's State of Lies for my book club (SO GOOD!!!!), in which the heroine is a quantum physicist. (Which her 6-yr-old son calls a fizziest, which made me giggle.) I've been thoroughly enjoying all the science jokes on her T-shirts, and...

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Word of the Week – Fence
Word of the Week – Fence

Originally posted in May 2015 So, duh moment. Did you know that the noun fence--like, you know, the thing around your yard--is from defense? Yeah. Duh. I'd never paused to consider that, perhaps because the spelling has ended up different, but there you go! It has...

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Word of the Week – Field Trip
Word of the Week – Field Trip

This is another revisit...and since we were all sheltering at home for the last months of the school year, one that we're probably all thinking about with longing. πŸ˜‰ Coming at you originally from May of 2015, when Rowyn was only 7 and Xoe was 9, which of course gave...

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Word of the Week – Grapevine
Word of the Week – Grapevine

Originally published June 2015 We've all heard it through the grapevine (and some of us might break into song at the mere mention...), but do you know where the saying comes from? I didn't--but I learned recently so thought I'd share. =) Grapevine, meaning "a rumor"...

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Word of the Week – Salary and Salt
Word of the Week – Salary and Salt

Leave it to my daughter to lean over in the middle of church and whisper, "Word of the week!" during the sermon--which is exactly what happened when my dad shared this fun little tidbit. ;-)Did you know that salary is from the same root as salt? Salary has meant...

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Word of the Week – Sit, Twiddle, and Twirl
Word of the Week – Sit, Twiddle, and Twirl

Originally published on 9/3/2012 Today I'm going to examine the origin of a particular phrase rather than a particular word. πŸ˜‰ Back in the day when I originally examined this, as I was working on Whispers from the Shadows, my hero was exclaiming something about how it...

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Word of the Week – Nauseous
Word of the Week – Nauseous

Originally published 10/15/2012 Okay, y'all, I originally posted this seven and a half years ago, and my call for actual evidence to support the claim below netted me nothing but others who were curious, LOL. So I'm trying again--because this claim has since even...

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Word of the Week – Mean
Word of the Week – Mean

Originally posted 8/20/12   Mean is one of those words that I knew well would have been around forever, but I looked it up to see about some of the particular uses. And as usual, found a few surprises. =) As a verb, mean has meant "intend, have in mind" even back...

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Word of the Week – Zone
Word of the Week – Zone

Originally posted on 8/13/12 Once upon a time, I was looking up "war zone," and in so doing came across some interesting tidbits on zone. =) The noun dates to the late fourteenth century, coming directly from the Latin zona, which means "a geographical belt, celestial...

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Word of the Week – Mayday
Word of the Week – Mayday

This is a very appropriate revisit from 2012, I thought since we're only a few days away from May 1. As in, May Day. Ha...ha...ha...πŸ˜‰ Anyway! Mayday, according to "The Wireless Age" from June 1923, is an aviator distress call. It was agreed that just saying the...

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Word of the Week – Wow
Word of the Week – Wow

Originally posted August 27, 2012 Though a revisit, this remains one of my favorite word discoveries!  I always thought of wow as a modern word. So when I looked it up, I was shocked to see that it's from 1510! Wow is a Scottish interjection, one of those that...

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Word of the Week – Smorgasbord
Word of the Week – Smorgasbord

Holidays mean food. (So do regular days, LOL.) And this year, with trying to limit our trips to the store, I'm making more of an effort than usual to make sure all leftovers get eaten. Which led me to pull everything out of the fridge and declare dinner a smorgasbord...

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Word of the Week – Fast II
Word of the Week – Fast II

I've looked at the word fast before, but I was specifically focusing on the adjective/adverb form (and why we don't add -ly to it anymore). Today I wanted to take a look at the verb/noun form. Seems appropriate as we enter Holy Week, the end of the period of Lenton...

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Word of the Week – Curfew
Word of the Week – Curfew

I found this one on another trending list at Etymonline.com -- and found it quite interesting! Did you know that curfew is literally "cover fire"? It's from the Old French cuevrefeu -- cuevre being "cover" and feu, of course,Β being "fire." Why? Well, it began in the...

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Word of the Week – Mystic and . . . Secretary?
Word of the Week – Mystic and . . . Secretary?

Talking about some secretive words today. πŸ˜‰ In one of our family devotionals last week, there was a quote from a "mystic" of millennia past, and we found ourselves wondering where the word came from. Mystic comes from the Greek mystikos, meaning "secret, connected to...

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Word of the Week – Quarantine
Word of the Week – Quarantine

No, I'm not being morbid. 😏 But this was one of the trending words on Etymonline, and I found its etymology fascinating! So quarantine entered English around 1660 with its somewhat-familiar meaning: "the length of time a ship suspected of carrying disease was kept in...

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Word of the Week – Mesmerize
Word of the Week – Mesmerize

When one looks up the etymology of mesmerize, one will find that it dates from 1819, when it was coined with the meaning of "to put into a hypnotic state." What Etymonline doesn't mention is that this comes directly from the name of the physician who developed the...

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Word of the Week – Just Kidding!
Word of the Week – Just Kidding!

Originally published November 2011 I like the word "kid." I use it with my children (do you know how hard it was for me to write that sentence without using the word "kid"? LOL), I use it for jests. It's a standard part of my vocabulary. But I'll never forget the...

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Word of the Week – Cameo
Word of the Week – Cameo

I'm having so much fun going through my old Word of the Week entries and redoing some of the oldest ones. I don't know about you, but I don't remember all these tidbits I've looked up in the past! LOL. This one comes to you from 2011. Appropriate, again, since I'm...

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Word of the Week – Fiddle (dedee, faddle, and sticks)
Word of the Week – Fiddle (dedee, faddle, and sticks)

This is another re-post, from way back in 2011...and I couldn't resist sharing it again now, given that the most famous use of fiddle de dee is undoubtedly from Gone with the Wind, and I'm currently editing my upcoming novel, Dreams of Savannah that has a very...

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Word of the Week – Stable
Word of the Week – Stable

This one was a question my son asked the other day. Why do we use the same word for the two different meanings of stable--the adjective and then the noun? Are they from the same root? (Why yes, my children do ask questions like this regularly, LOL.) The short answer...

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Word of the Week – Plant
Word of the Week – Plant

Originally published 5/12/12 I thought it would be fun to revisit this old Word of the Week when I saw the pretty photo I put in here of a strip of our flowers at our old house. Ah, spring, how I long for thee. πŸ˜‰ So here you go--a(nother) glimpse at the word plant:...

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Word of the Week Revisit –  Kidnap
Word of the Week Revisit – Kidnap

Okay, I just did this one not-quite-three-years ago...but it was when I was brainstorming On Wings of Devotion, so it seemed like a fun revisit! ~*~ This might seem like an odd word of the week until you consider I'm a writer, LOL. One who, as it happens, is indeed...

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Word of the Week – Nimrod
Word of the Week – Nimrod

Nimrod. In Genesis, he's recorded as being a hunter of legendary renown and expertise. But I remember the first time I read that for myself thinking, "Really? I thought it meant 'idiot.'" The etymologists can't document exactly how this change in meaning happened, but...

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Word of the Week – Figgy Pudding
Word of the Week – Figgy Pudding

Special request from Bev today, and an appropriate one for the 6th Day of Christmas. πŸ˜€ Figgy Pudding. If you're like me, you've really only heard of it in that oft-forgotten verse of "We Wish You a Merry Christmas." But what in the world is it? First, let's get this...

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Word of the Week – Elves
Word of the Week – Elves

(Originally published in 2015)  I am sometimes baffled by how things come into our cultural consciousness...and change over the centuries. Cue the elves. Elf comes from Germanic folklore, with equivalents in Norse and Saxon mythology. The word itself hasn't...

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Word of the Week – Jolly
Word of the Week – Jolly

This one's another revisit from 2014. 😁 And this discovery made me smile. I have to say that most times when I hear the word jolly, I think of Christmas. Jolly old St. Nick, jolly elves, etc. And apparently, that's a good thing to think of! Though the word comes most...

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Word of the Week – Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
Word of the Week – Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

Today's Word of the Week--a revisit of a post from 2014--is less a word and more the etymology of a story. Because my kids asked me after I went through the original St. Nicholas story with them, when Rudolph came about, and I had no clue. As it turns out, our beloved...

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Word of the Week – X-mas
Word of the Week – X-mas

1922 ad in Ladies' Home Journal Advent is upon us, so I figured I'd go back to my practice of sharing holiday-themed words each Monday. I think I've used pretty much all of them at some point or another, but I'll try to highlight ones I haven't looked at in a while,...

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Word of the Week – Whim(sy)
Word of the Week – Whim(sy)

I've always loved the word whimsy. For some reason, those "fanciful, fantastic" ideas strike me as pure joy. (Shocking for a novelist, right?) Interesting, though, that (in my head at least) whimsy and whimsical have good connotations, while whim can carry a more...

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Word of the Week – Candid
Word of the Week – Candid

We know the word candid as "truthful, honest, sincere." It's carried this meaning since the 1670s. But before that, it carried the meaning of "bright, white" which came from the Latin candere, which means, "to shine." I really kind of love this one. Because what...

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Word of the Week – Trek
Word of the Week – Trek

The word trek has been in the English language only since around 1849--and it was a direct borrow from the Dutch treck. But I found it interesting that treck didn't actually mean "a long journey" when the Dutch started using it. Nope. It meant "to drag or pull." Why?...

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Word of the Week – Understand
Word of the Week – Understand

(Originally published on April 25, 2011) I can't say as I've ever understood why, when we comprehend something, we stand under it. So this week we're working to understand the word understand. πŸ˜€ According to the wonderful world of www.etymonline.com, this word, which...

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Word of the Week – Amen
Word of the Week – Amen

Post originally published 4/18/2011 Another Word of the Week revisit coming your way, again from my first days of doing these features in 2011. πŸ˜€ And today we're (re)looking at amen. "Amen" is a direct translation from a Hebrew word that literally means "so be it."...

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Word of the Week – Macaroni
Word of the Week – Macaroni

This is actually a revisit of one of my very first word features, from way back in 2011. Figured we could use a refresher on some of those fun ones! So today...macaroni! Yes, you read that right. πŸ˜‰ Now, in my house "macaroni" is synonymous with "the most common food...

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Word of the Week – Handsome
Word of the Week – Handsome

Those of you who have been reading these posts for the entire eight years I've been writing them weekly may (or may not) remember the third word I featured: handsome. I thought it would be fun to revisit some of those early entries and remind myself of their...

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Word of the Week – Pale
Word of the Week – Pale

At church last week I was joking with my son about something and declared it "Beyond the pale." At which point he, of course, asked what in the world that meant. Hmm. Good question. This being me, I immediately pulled up etymonline.com (so not cool, Mom) and looked up...

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Word of the Week – Apple
Word of the Week – Apple

Since last week we looked into peach, I thought it would be fun to move to an autumn fruit this week and explore the history of the word apple. Apple is from Old English, which means it's been around pretty much forever. But it didn't always mean that specific fruit...

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Word of the Week – Peach
Word of the Week – Peach

So, funny story. When we moved from our old house to one on my mother-in-law's property, my daughter was distraught over leaving the beautiful old weeping cherry tree we had at the other house. So her grandmother promised to plant her one here. And so she did...or so...

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Word of the Week – Stamina
Word of the Week – Stamina

We're all familiar with the word stamina, meaning "strength to resist, endurance." But did you know that it comes from the Latin word for "threads"? The Latin, in turn, is from the Greek stemon...a thread. Specifically, the thread that the three Fates spun, measured...

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Word of the Week – Enigma
Word of the Week – Enigma

Did you know that our word enigma actually comes from the Greek word for "fable"? I hadn't! But apparently so. Said Greek word is ainos. And since a fable is a tale whose meaning/message has to be puzzled out, ainos let to a verb ainissesthai, which means (go figure)...

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Word of the Week – Balmy
Word of the Week – Balmy

It took a while for summer weather to really take hold for us this year in West Virginia...but man, it's been full force in August! Heat and humidity all around--which we frequently describe as balmy. Which, as it turns out, probably isn't actually a good word for it,...

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Word of the Week – Pastor
Word of the Week – Pastor

This kind of qualifies as a head slap moment, LOL. So even as kid, I noticed how close pastor sounds and looks to pasture. And the fact that pastoral means "having to do with country life" was something I learned a long time ago. But I never actually paused to wonder...

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Word of the Week – Tycoon
Word of the Week – Tycoon

A couple years ago, I remember reading to the kids about Commodore Matthew C. Perry's visit to Japan in 1854, and how it opened Japan to trade with the US for the first time. But I didn't realize that the word tycoon came directly from this visit! During Perry's...

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Word of the Week – Crucial
Word of the Week – Crucial

If you saw my post a few weeks ago on excruciating/crucifixion, you might just look at the word crucial and say, "Well, huh. That has that cruc root in it too!" And you'd be right. Crucial also has the same root, which literally means "cross" in Latin. But in the case...

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Word of the Week – Adept
Word of the Week – Adept

Did you know that the word adept is linked to alchemy? Yeah...neither did I. Adept is from the Latin adeptus, literally meaning "having attained" and was introduced into English in the Middle Ages among alchemists. If you showed particular knowledge of this art, you...

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Word of the Week – Confiscate
Word of the Week – Confiscate

When I think about Roman tax collectors, I admit that most of what I know has been gleaned from the Gospel passages dealing with them, LOL. But did you know that tax collectors in Roman days would collect all the taxes in baskets woven from rushes? The Latin word for...

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Word of the Week – Lackadaisical
Word of the Week – Lackadaisical

This seems like a nice word for the middle of summer, doesn't it? We know it as meaning "lazy, languid." Not always a good thing, but on a summer day, you might be inclined to give it less negative connotation, right? This word has a fun history, though! It dates to...

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Word of the Week – Anthology
Word of the Week – Anthology

We all know what an anthology is, right? A collection of pieces by various writers or artists (or by a single author) all gathered into one volume. I'd never paused to think about how old these are, but in fact, the English word anthology as a collection of poems...

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Word of the Week – Excruciating
Word of the Week – Excruciating

A quick but enlightening word choice this week. Did you know that the word excruciating is linked directly to crucifixion? If you're like me, you'd never paused to think about it, but as soon as you see the two words side by side ~ excruciating | crucifixion ~ you see...

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Word of the Week – Cleave
Word of the Week – Cleave

One of my very first Words of the Week was the word cleave. I've long found it interesting that the word has two meanings, which are opposite each other: Cleave, definition 1 - to divide, to split, to cut Cleave, definition 2 - to stick, cling, adhere to something...

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Word of the Week – Cheese
Word of the Week – Cheese

Why? Because I'm a big fan of cheese...and I happened across the word when browsing through etymonline.com (why yes, I browse etymology sites. Doesn't everyone?? LOL) and realized I had no idea of the history of either the word or the food. The English word for cheese...

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Word of the Week – 9 English Idioms (Guest Post)
Word of the Week – 9 English Idioms (Guest Post)

This week I'm mixing it up just a wee bit and referring you to another fun blog post that explores the origins of 9 common English sayings. Language is such a fascinating area of study, and each has its own unique, complex set of intricacies that makes it difficult...

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Word of the Week – Truffle
Word of the Week – Truffle

Okay, when I say truffle, I mean the chocolate. Period. At least in terms of things I'd like to put into my mouth. πŸ˜‰ But I am, of course, also aware of the fungus sold for ridiculous amounts of money that answers to the same name. And I've wondered why these two very...

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Word of the Week – Ostracize
Word of the Week – Ostracize

No one wants to be ostracized, right? It's a banishment, or a more metaphorical exclusion. Either way, not good. But it has a looooong history. Ostracize actually comes from the Greek word ostrakon--a piece of broken pottery. See, back in the day in Athens, someone...

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Word of the Week – Miniature
Word of the Week – Miniature

This ranks as another of those words that surprised me! I've long known that people used to call small portraits miniatures--but what I didn't realize was that the "small" part wasn't the root of the word. In fact, the word miniature comes from the Latin miniare,...

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Word of the Week – Boycott
Word of the Week – Boycott

No, I'm not advocating one of anything. πŸ˜‰ I just read the history of the word in my son's vocab book and thought I'd share. Do you already know the history of this one? I think I've probably heard it before, and I had a vague recollection that it was a name, but the...

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Word of the Week – Opportunity
Word of the Week – Opportunity

This is one I've never thought to look up the meaning of before! But it appeared in my son's vocabulary book, so I'll happily soak up the knowledge. πŸ˜‰ Opportunity comes to us via French, directly from Latin. It means, in all those languages "fitness, convenience,...

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Word of the Week – Scale
Word of the Week – Scale

I always find it interesting when a word with different meanings comes, in fact, from different root words. Such is the case with scale. Though that single English word can mean many different things--fish's scale, or a scale that builds up on something; to scale a...

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Word of the Week – Mediocre
Word of the Week – Mediocre

So mediocre has meant the same thing since it entered English round about 1580: "of moderate quality, neither good nor bad." But I'd never really looked it up to realize where it comes from. Medi- of course means "middle" or "halfway" in Latin, which we know from...

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Word of the Week – Sinister
Word of the Week – Sinister

Yet another homeschool-inspired Word of the Week--this one from my daughter, who bounced out to the kitchen the other day to say, "Do you know where the word sinister comes from?" To which I replied, stopping what I was doing, "No! Tell me!" And so she did. πŸ˜€ (I adore...

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Word of the Week – Ballet and Ball
Word of the Week – Ballet and Ball

My daughter has been taking ballet since she was five, and it's safe to say she is a very enthusiastic fan of the art. πŸ˜‰  A few weeks ago she asked me to look up where the word comes from, so of course, I obliged. Ballet comes to English from (shocker) French....

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Word of the Week – Jumbo
Word of the Week – Jumbo

My daughter informed of this one, courtesy of her history book. =) So we all know jumbo as "very large." Even excessively large. But did you know it came from an elephant's name? I didn't! In the 1880s there was an elephant in the London zoo called Mumbo Jumbo...

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Word of the Week – Stationary and Stationery
Word of the Week – Stationary and Stationery

Okay, this one is really cool, guys! I've long known that stationary (meaning "not moving") and stationery (meaning "writing materials") were homophones and that the one with the a was the adjective and the one with the e had to do with writing letters. But did you...

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Word of the Week – “Integr-” words
Word of the Week – “Integr-” words

This is another one that comes courtesy of my son's vocabulary book. πŸ˜‰ Let's look for a moment at the Latin word integer, which means "whole, complete." We see this root in quite a lot of English words. First, the word integer itself, which means "a whole number."...

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Word of the Week – Campaign
Word of the Week – Campaign

The word campaign has been in English since the 1600s, arriving in our tongue from Latin, by way of French. In its early days, campaign was reserved for military courses of action. Why? Well, it's actually from the Latin word campus, which means "an open field."...

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Word of the Week – Disaster
Word of the Week – Disaster

This is one of those that I probably could have figured out if I ever happened to pause and think about it...but which I'd never paused to think of until I saw it in my son's vocabulary book. πŸ˜‰ So, we're probably all familiar with the root of disaster. Namely, aster,...

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Word of the Week – Slug
Word of the Week – Slug

In my house, we often ask which words come first--the animals, or the people who share their traits. Like slug/sluggish, sloth/slothful etc. Well, in the case of slug, the trait definitely came before the critter! It comes from the Scandinavian word slugje, which...

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Word of the Week – Liberty and Libraries
Word of the Week – Liberty and Libraries

We all know the liber words that have to do with "freedom": Liberty Liberate Liberally But what about Library? Is it so called because it's where you can get books for free? You might think so, but...no, actually. It's because in Latin, liber had two meanings: "free"...

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Word of the Week – Puny
Word of the Week – Puny

My kids' vocabulary books have this section at the end of each lesson called "Fun and Fascinating Facts" about the words or roots in that week's list. This one comes courtesy of Rowyn's book--and is something I really did find fun and fascinating! So, puny. I know it...

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Word of the Week – Aroma
Word of the Week – Aroma

This time of year, I do a fair amount of baking--love a little added warmth in the kitchen! And I have to say, one of my favorite things to bake is bread. I love the process of making it--kneading the dough, finding that perfect texture and moisture level, then...

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Word of the Week – Companion
Word of the Week – Companion

So we all know what a companion is...but if you're anything like me, you've never paused to examine where the word came from. Com is Latin for "with." Okay...making sense so far. A companion is someone you're with. But I'd never stopped to realize that the panion part...

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Word of the Week – Auld Lang Syne
Word of the Week – Auld Lang Syne

I know, I know, I'm a week late for this one. But on New Year's, my family asked what in the world this song means, so I figured it would be a great feature for my first Word of the Week post in January! I've never really looked too deeply into this song and the...

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Word of the Year – Promise
Word of the Year – Promise

As the old year draws to a close, I always pray for a word for the new year. Something I ought to keep in mind through the coming months. Something God whispers to my spirit. Sometimes I get one. Sometimes I don't. For 2018, there was no word that stood out. And given...

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Word of the Week – Noel
Word of the Week – Noel

'Tis the season to look up any Christmas-related words I haven't already done. πŸ˜‰ Knowing that noel is French, I suppose I figured there wasn't much more to know about it, so I hadn't looked into this one before. But I decided it was time! For starters, I had no idea...

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Word of the Week – Bran(d) New
Word of the Week – Bran(d) New

This is another word that my daughter came running out to show me in her history book. And one I found even more intriguing when I looked it up on my own, as etymonline doesn't, in fact, agree with said history book! So, according to A History of Us, the phrase...

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Word of the Week – Dub
Word of the Week – Dub

We've been studying medieval history in our homeschool right now, which of course means learning about knights and the process they go through to become knights. Which naturally led to a question of where in the world the word dub came from. Dub has been around since...

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Word of the Week – Vignette
Word of the Week – Vignette

I love learning things through my kids' school! A week or two ago, my daughter came out with her vocabulary book in hand to ask if I knew about the history of the word vignette. I'm not sure if I've ever heard this before, but it's a fun progression! So back in the...

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Word of the Week – Stumped
Word of the Week – Stumped

Ever wonder why, when we're stymied and/or confused, we say we're stumped? I'd never really paused to wonder about this one, but my daughter learned this etymology in her history class and had to share, and it made me go, "Oh, of course!" As early as the 13th century,...

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Word of the Week – Buck
Word of the Week – Buck

This one also comes courtesy of my daughter and her history book, which includes fun little snippets about what words got their origins in the time she's studying (a history book after my own heart!). I think I'd heard this one before, but I'd forgotten. Ever wonder...

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Word of the Week – Sleep Tight
Word of the Week – Sleep Tight

In my house, this has become a bit of a joke. Not knowing--or pausing to ask--the origin of the phrase sleep tight, we just sort of assumed it was related to being tucked in. Rowyn, who likes to be tucked and covered, "sleeps tight." Xoe, who sleeps on top of her...

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Word of the Week – From Scratch
Word of the Week – From Scratch

My October baking has inspired looking into this one. Why, exactly, do we say something's made "from scratch" if it doesn't use a mix? Maybe y'all know this already, since it's pretty simple, but I was clueless, LOL. In my head, I think it may have had something to do...

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Word of the Week – Shrapnel
Word of the Week – Shrapnel

Writing war books as I for some bizarre reason seem to do quite a bit (built in conflict?), I occasionally find myself looking up terms that have to do with weapons, fighting, etc. And sometimes--like this time--I'm quite surprised by what I find! Apparently, I've...

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Word of the Week – Auditorium
Word of the Week – Auditorium

This is one of the words I'd just never paused to think about. Auditorium. It was always just the place we went to in school when the whole school needed to meet. But last week my husband went, "Oh! I'd never looked at auditorium this way before. As in, auditory. Plus...

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Word of the Week – Hose
Word of the Week – Hose

I know, I know. This seems like a strange choice of word for me to look up. πŸ˜‰ But I had a moment last week when I was wondering how long the garden-hose type of thing had been in use, so I looked it up. As I do. And then was kind of amazed by the answer! Hose first...

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Word of the Week – $ and Dollar
Word of the Week – $ and Dollar

This one is yet again at the request of my kids, who asked why in the world we abbreviate "dollar" with $. (They also asked why they sometimes have one line through it and other times two.) So...though it has been suggested by some historians that the $ is related to...

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Word of the Week – Popsicle
Word of the Week – Popsicle

The heat of summer is fully upon us, and we all know nothing tastes as good on those hot summer days as cool treats. Ice cream, Popsicles, frozen coffees and yogurts and you-name-it. My assistant's little boy asked where the word Popsicle comes from, so this Word of...

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Word of the Week – Copperhead
Word of the Week – Copperhead

It has been a rainy, rainy summer here in West Virginia. The result? Critters everywhere they shouldn't be. We live in the woods, and the rodents and spiders inside this year have been terrible. Then...then...there's the copperheads. These venomous snakes usually...

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Word of the Week – Beware
Word of the Week – Beware

Last Wednesday, I was invited to speak at retailers event near Lancaster, PA. As my husband and I were driving through Pennsylvania, also known in our family as "the land of oh-so-helpful road signs," we saw first the "Don't Tailgate" sign. And then one that said...

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Word of the Week – Whisker
Word of the Week – Whisker

I live in a house with both a man and cats. So naturally, the debate about which came first, whisker for a man's facial hair or whisker for the long, sensitive hairs on a cat's face, has come up. (Yeah, okay, so my family's all weird, LOL. Or my word-nerd ways have...

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Word of the Week – Season
Word of the Week – Season

Before bed one night, while we were waiting for his sister to finish washing her face and brushing her teeth, my son and I were coming up with silly reasons for each season's name. It began with the easy-to-determine fall. "Hey!" Rowyn said, "I bet it's because of...

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Word of the Week – Slang
Word of the Week – Slang

Slang. Something we all know. And probably use. "Informal language." Those words not accepted as proper but not bad. That informal language is in fact usually "characterized by vividness and novelty." Mostly, the word hasn't changed that much...but it's broadened. And...

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Word of the Week – Fair
Word of the Week – Fair

It's summer. And so, as I was casting around looking for words to feature, my daughter said, "Do something summery! Like, you know...a carnival, or the fair." When I'm writing this, our County Fair has just finished up, and the neighboring county's is scheduled for a...

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Word of the Week – Circus
Word of the Week – Circus

I love that www.etymonline.com has a list of trending words. Sometimes I click on them solely out of curiosity...like when I saw circus on there today. Last May my family journeyed to Charleston, WV to attend one of the final shows of the Ringling Bros and Barnum...

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Word of the Week – Wed & Marry
Word of the Week – Wed & Marry

Yesterday was my wedding anniversary--17 years since I first said "I do" to the love of my life. πŸ˜€ So naturally, today I thought I'd take a look at the words! Wed is from Old English weddian, which means "to pledge oneself, vow; to betroth, to marry." This is similar...

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Word of the Week – Tootles
Word of the Week – Tootles

This one is a special request from my daughter, who came across it in a book. πŸ˜ƒ So, tootles. Being a 90s tween/teen, I grew up hearing this word as "goodbye" (or maybe it was toodles? Hard to say, as apparently it never appeared in writing, and it has no entry in any...

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Word of the Week – God
Word of the Week – God

Sometimes it's so interesting to look at the history of the words that are so very common to our language! God is certainly one of those. I'd heard at some point over the years that god and good are related . . . and I imagine most of you have heard the same. But...

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Word of the Week – Cookie
Word of the Week – Cookie

Time for a sweet treat of a word! Cookie. In American English, we all know what this means. Yummy... Tasty... Delicious sweet treats... My favorites are soft and chewy. Some prefer crisp and buttery. But in my opinion, all cookies are awesome. What they aren't,...

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Word of the Week – Nice
Word of the Week – Nice

Nice. Such a simple word, so well known...and so surprising! I happened to click onto it on www.etymonline.com because it was a trending word, and I was so shocked to see its evolution! Did you know that nice used to mean "foolish, stupid, senseless"? Apparently it's...

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Word of the Week – Pedestrian
Word of the Week – Pedestrian

If you've been hanging around my blog since 2011 (there are a few of you--you know who you are, LOL), then you may remember that I've featured this word before. And you may remember it solely because it was first ever Word of the Week. But since so many of my readers...

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Word of the Week – Grub
Word of the Week – Grub

Today's Word of the Week comes as a special request from Lynne F.'s nephew, who asked about grub, and how/when it came to be a slang word for food. Well, grub is the larva of an insect, and has meant that since the early 1400s. Etymologists aren't actually sure if...

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Word of the Week – Reckless Vs. Wreck
Word of the Week – Reckless Vs. Wreck

This is actually a repost of a word from 6 years ago, but my daughter asked me about it last week, so it seemed a fine time for a revisit. 😁 Reckless is one of those that always confused me as a kid. I mean, why was it reckLESS when you were indicating that people...

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Word of the Week – Hat Trick
Word of the Week – Hat Trick

Some families are football families. Baseball families. Basketball families. We are a hockey family. And since the playoff just began and we're cheering our Penguins on, I thought I'd pause to look at one of the hockey terms. (Okay, so it was a trending word on...

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Word of the Week – Mannequin
Word of the Week – Mannequin

I looked this one up, wanting to use it in a book set in 1917...only to find a history I knew nothing about! So mannequin has been around since 1902, but it wasn't a form used to display clothes. Or rather, not a non-living one. When mannequin first appeared, it was...

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Word of the Week – Easter
Word of the Week – Easter

I've done this Word of the Week before, but it was six years ago, so I figured a revisit wouldn't be begrudged by anyone. πŸ˜‰ When Anglo-Saxon Christians first started celebrating the Mass of Christ's Resurrection, they gave it the name Easter, after Eastre, the...

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Word of the Week – Sabbath and Saturday
Word of the Week – Sabbath and Saturday

Today's Word of the Week is actually just inspired by www.etymonline.com's trending word list, LOL. Which is funny, because those who know me well know that my church has actually opted to keep Saturday as the Sabbath rather than Sunday, so you might think I have an...

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Word of the Week – Revolution
Word of the Week – Revolution

This week, something fun is happening, and I'm celebrating by making all the week's blog posts go to the theme. This week, the book previously known as Love Finds You in Annapolis, Maryland will re-release from WhiteFire as A Heart's Revolution. On Wednesday, I'll be...

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Word of the Week – University
Word of the Week – University

A couple weeks ago on the radio, I heard someone musing about the shift of the university experience from its origins. He was saying how university came from uni (one) + verity (truth), and how in recent years people have forgotten the one-truth bit and are instead...

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Word of the Week – Family
Word of the Week – Family

Yet another word I just never bothered to look up...but once I did, I was a bit surprised! PinterestGerman servants, early 1900s Did you know that family didn't mean "parents with their children" until 1660, though it was an English word since the early 1400s??? I...

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Word of the Week – Scrapbook
Word of the Week – Scrapbook

A commonplace book, circa mid-1600s. Photo via Beinecke Flickr Laboratory This special request comes from Bev Duell-Moore. =) And hilariously, as soon she asked me to feature it, I did a quick search...which came in mighty handy just a few days later, when I needed a...

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Word of the Week – Autograph
Word of the Week – Autograph

Upon special request, today we're going to look into the word autograph . . . which is fitting, since there are just a couple days left in this month's sale of autographed copies of The Reluctant Duchess! πŸ˜‰ I didn't give it too much thought when this request came...

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Word of the Week – Nun
Word of the Week – Nun

This week's Word is another special request from Lynne F.  ~ Remember that any time you have one you'd like me to look up, just let me know! ~ Pinterest Nun dates back to the very beginnings of English, all the way to the days of Old English, when it was spelled...

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Word of the Week – Nurse
Word of the Week – Nurse

Today's Word of the Week is a special request from Lynne F. (and as a reminder, if ever you have a word you'd like me to look into, please feel free to let me know and I'll add it to my list!). Nurse is rather interesting, in that the noun and verb forms evolved a bit...

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Word of the Week – Recipe and Receipt
Word of the Week – Recipe and Receipt

I'd noticed when reading historical work--either original or fiction--that recipe and receipt were often used in ways that we today would deem, well, flipped. But I'd never really paused to look it up. I'm glad I just did, because I learned something! We'll start with...

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Word of the Week – Drapes
Word of the Week – Drapes

Yet another Word of the Week inspired by my weekend activities. πŸ˜‰ I confess: I'm not a decorator. Most of the decorations in my house are books, LOL. (The best decorations, if I do say so myself.) Things like curtains...meh. I've put them up in most rooms, simply to...

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Word of the Week – Those Hats…
Word of the Week – Those Hats…

Last week, my friend Rachel McMillan (of Toronto) asked on Facebook what the different American regions called a certain type of hat. You know, that basic knit hat for the winter. There, she said, they universally called it a toque. Other answers included "winter hat,...

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Word of the Week – Yule
Word of the Week – Yule

Did you know that  yule and jolly are from the same root? According to some sources, both come from the Old Norse jol (that J would be pronounced like a Y--see my word of the week on the letter J), which was borrowed into Old French as well, as jolif, which...

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Word of the Week – Carol
Word of the Week – Carol

Last weekend, my church went to a nursing home (where we visit once a month) and sang carols with the residents. At which point, I realized that I'd never paused to look up the origin of the word! Carol dates from around 1300, meaning, "a joyful song." It came into...

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Word of the Week – Wassail
Word of the Week – Wassail

We've all heard "wassailing" in some of the old Christmas songs. And you probably have an awareness (vague or otherwise) of wassail being a drink. But if you're anything like me (before I had to research it for a book a few years ago), that's the extent of your...

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Word of the Week – Advent
Word of the Week – Advent

This weekend, advent begins. And so, it seemed the perfect word to study a bit this week. =) And then we'll focus on holiday-themed words throughout our December Mondays! Advent means, of course, "coming." It's from the Latin adventus, and specifically in Church Latin...

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Word of the Week – Science
Word of the Week – Science

These days, when people say science, they have a particular thing in mind, right? Chemistry, biology, anatomy, physics, etc. But did you know that science used to be a far more general term? The word dates from the 14th century, from the French word of the exact same...

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Word of the Week – Romance
Word of the Week – Romance

Last week, in talking about the word novel, I mentioned that novels were previously referred to as romances, which of course set us up perfectly for this week's Word. =) Since around 1300, romance meant "a story, written or recited, of a knight, hero, etc." Why were...

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Word of the Week – Novel
Word of the Week – Novel

I'm not sure how I've managed to go this long without featuring the most obvious word in the world as my Word of the Week ~ Novel ~ but it's high time I remedy that oversight! We're all probably familiar with the two ways novel is used in English today--"A novel idea"...

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Word of the Week – Fall, Autumn, and Harvest
Word of the Week – Fall, Autumn, and Harvest

Saturday as the kids and I were driving Rowyn to a birthday party, they were observing that it was way too warm for fall, and all the trees were still green . . . and XoΓ« then said, "I don't like that we call it fall. It should be autumn. Why did we ever start doing...

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Word of the Week – Career V. Careen
Word of the Week – Career V. Careen

The other day, my husband asked, "So what's the difference between career--as in to career down a hill, the verb, and careen?" To which I brilliantly said, "Uh . . . er . . . I don't know." So naturally, I had to look it up. And it's SO INTERESTING! Let's start with...

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Word of the Week – J
Word of the Week – J

Okay, so it's more a letter of the week. πŸ˜‰ My curiosity over the letter J began in part when I saw a Facebook rant, claiming that we're all in big trouble spiritually because we've forgotten the true name of the Son of the God--that it was Yeshua, not Jesus. The...

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Word of the Week – Pizza
Word of the Week – Pizza

Sometimes we have to examine those favorite words. Like pizza. Right? I don't know about your house, but in mine, pizza is a staple. My children adore it. Almost as much as I do. (Hey, I've had more years to grow the love...) So it's no surprise that the other day, as...

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Word of the Week – Bamboozle
Word of the Week – Bamboozle

My dearest daughter suggested this word of the week, because she thought it was such a fun word to say. πŸ˜‰ So, bamboozle. This will be rather quick, because etymologists aren't entirely sure where it came from, LOL. What they can tell you for certain is that it's...

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Word of the Week – Schedule
Word of the Week – Schedule

I've just returned from a week of vacation in the beautiful Outer Banks of North Carolina . . . which means my schedule is bursting with things that need done. Now, as it happens, I knew from some of my writing projects that schedule would not have been a word used in...

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Word of the Week – Amused
Word of the Week – Amused

Short and sweet--and funny!--word today. =) Amused. We all know what it means, right? "Entertained. Aroused to mirth." And today, that's true. But did you know that the word originally meant "distracted, diverted, cheated"??? Truth! When amused entered the language...

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Word of the Week – Tween
Word of the Week – Tween

So this has been a debate in my house in recent weeks. Xoe will say something about being/looking up pictures of/something geared at a tween. Rowyn will reply with, "I hate that word. It's not even a thing. I'm not a tween and I'll never be a tween." To which Xoe will...

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Word of the Week – Eclipse
Word of the Week – Eclipse

Figured I'd jump on the eclipse bandwagon today and talk about a part of it I haven't seen anyone else mention--the word itself! πŸ˜‰ Eclipse has been in English since around 1300 (since, you know, there was English), taken from French, which was taken from Latin,...

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Corn Husk Dolls
Corn Husk Dolls

Not exactly a word of the week, I know. πŸ˜‰ I'm giving myself permission to be lazy, since it's my birthday. But my "lazy" just means working on projects that are just fun, not technically work. Which today means corn husk dolls. I just looked up how to make them...

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Word of the Week – Galumph
Word of the Week – Galumph

Yesterday, my family and I went hiking at Seneca Rocks. On our way there, we passed a sign that said Watch for West Virginia Wild Life. "I've already seen it," I said. "I saw that groundhog galumphing along." Later last night, my husband was finishing up the first...

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Word of the Week – Hoot
Word of the Week – Hoot

So as I was writing last week, trying to finish up the first draft of An Hour Unspent, book 3 in the Shadows Over England Series, I ran into a silly problem. I was trying to have someone describe the hero's little brother. He's a bit of a prankster, but only in an...

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Word of the Week – Blessing
Word of the Week – Blessing

You may have seen last week that I posted the video of my recent sermon on blessings and gifts. I figured that, since not everyone has the time to watch a half-hour video, I'd also give you the super-brief summary of what I learned. The English word blessing comes...

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Word of the Week – Cloche
Word of the Week – Cloche

A nice and simple word for this week, as it's a super busy one! I don't know if anyone has seen the recent DQ commercials with the silver cloche over the food, but they inspired a question from daughter, who said, "I thought a cloche was a hat." The girl comes by this...

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Word of the Week – Coffee
Word of the Week – Coffee

I featured this word before, but it was 6 years ago, and I know much of my readership has changed. And let's be honest--coffee deserves to be featured again. Because it's one of the most beautiful creations in the universe. πŸ˜‰ The best guess of the awesome...

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Cover Reveal ~ A Song Unheard
Cover Reveal ~ A Song Unheard

It's always so exciting to get to share a new cover with you!! And I recently received the art for A Song Unheard, so here we go! First, a bit of background. Where book 1 in the series features a library and books [insert blissful sigh here], my hero and heroine in A...

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Word of the Week – Boss and Bossy
Word of the Week – Boss and Bossy

This isn't one of those words I expected to be surprised by--but I was. So. Waaaay back in the day, in the 1300s, the word boss was in English. But it was a noun meaning "a protuberance, a button." It came from the French boce, which meant "something swollen or...

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Word of the Week – Kerfuffle
Word of the Week – Kerfuffle

So last weekend when we were still in Charleston, WV after watching one of the last shows of Ringling Bros and Barnum & Baily (AWESOME), we had the news on in the hotel room. A reporter was interviewing two basketball players after they'd gotten in a fight. Here's...

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Word of the Week – Mess
Word of the Week – Mess

No, that is not a picture of my dresser. I don't think . . . πŸ˜‰ So this is another one of those words that is a big part of our everyday language, but which has some surprisingly late additions to it! As a noun, mess has been around since about 1300--as a word for...

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Word of the Week – Kaput
Word of the Week – Kaput

Not happy inspiration here, as I thought to wonder about the word as I was typing it into a description of what happened to my computer for the second time in a week--thoroughly and completely went kaput on me [grumble, grumble, growl, growl]. But the word itself is...

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Word of the Week – Forsake and Sake
Word of the Week – Forsake and Sake

Perhaps it's no surprise on the Monday following Holy Week that forsake has come up--I daresay many of us heard again in the last few days Jesus' lament upon the cross. It was some silly wordplay, however, that made me wonder as to the word's etymology. Yesterday in...

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Word of the Week – Cursive
Word of the Week – Cursive

As a mom of primary/middle schoolers, cursive writing is a part of our day. But as my kiddos were being their usual snarky selves last week (I've raised them well, what can I say), the question arose of why certain letters look the way they do in cursive. Because yes,...

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Word of the Week – Kidnap
Word of the Week – Kidnap

This might seem like an odd word of the week until you consider I'm a writer, LOL. One who, as it happens, is indeed brainstorming a plot that involves a kidnapping. And yet, I actually read about this word from pure happenstance. πŸ˜‰ Go figure! Anyway. It's kinda of...

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Word of the Week – Upper Case
Word of the Week – Upper Case

Another lesson learned at Colonial Williamsburg. =) Well, I'm pretty sure I'd learned this before, but not with a nice visual handy... So since the mid 1800s, people have referred to capital letters as upper case and small letters as lower case. This is a direct...

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Word of the Week – Diaper
Word of the Week – Diaper

Happy Monday from Colonial Williamsburg! It's Homeschool Days down in CW, so my family and I are here on a 2-day pass. Yesterday we had great fun visiting many of the trade shops and enjoying the early spring weather and flowers (daffodils! In February!). And it's...

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Word of the Week – The Dickens
Word of the Week – The Dickens

Another special request today, though there isn't quite as much information on it as there was on last week's . . . The questions was where the expression "the dickens" comes from. Well, the answer's a bit unclear. What we know is that it's an English last name, taken...

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Word of the Week – Frank
Word of the Week – Frank

Another Word of the Week request! (Love those--keep 'em coming!) This week for frank as an adjective--made by someone of that name. πŸ˜‰ Frank is taken directly from the people group, the Franks, who took over Gaul in the Middle Ages and named it for themselves (hence,...

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Word of the Week – Doily
Word of the Week – Doily

My daughter asked about this one as she was cutting up some paper doilies for valentines she was making. It was a quick answer, but one I'd certainly never investigated before, so I thought I'd share. So doily as we know it is a shortening of doily-napkin, and dates...

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Word of the Week – Ace
Word of the Week – Ace

I'm always so intrigued when words have come to mean the exact opposite of what they used to. And that, apparently, is what happened (metaphorically, at least) with ace. Round about the year 1300, the word ace entered English. It was taken from the Latin as, which...

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Word of the Week – Under the Weather
Word of the Week – Under the Weather

Okay, more of a phrase of the week--and this one by special request (happy to report no one's under the weather in my house! Though we had a brief stint of it last Tuesday...) Anyway. So. Everyone knows that under the weather means to feel sick. The question is where...

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Word of the Week – Bible
Word of the Week – Bible

Last weekend, my daughter asked where the word Bible came from. I had an idea but wasn't 100% sure I was right so looked it up--and indeed found my impression was correct. Bible is a rather ancient word, meaning "the Bible or any large book" back in the medieval days....

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Word for the Year – Overcome
Word for the Year – Overcome

I'd been praying for a word for 2017, as I usually do. Most of the time God will give me one when I ask, but there have been years when nothing has stood out. I had a feeling, as I prayed over the last few days, that this was going to be a no-word year. But then...

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Word of the Week – Mistletoe
Word of the Week – Mistletoe

Today I'm not examining the etymology of the word itself so much as the history of the tradition of hanging mistletoe at Christmas. Is this part of your family's tradition? I've never really taken part in it, but certainly we all know that if one pauses beneath...

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Word of the Week – Pet
Word of the Week – Pet

Because my blog is sadly lacking in cat pictures, which we all know is the primary purpose of the internet... We have two cats in our family; Lilly is without question our daughter's, and Ivy is more apt to hang out with the rest of us. She's especially fond of...

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Word of the Week – Posh
Word of the Week – Posh

A quick but fun one, especially in context. =) So, y'all probably know my current series is about thieves. I'm have SO much fun with this. And working pretty hard to make sure each main-character-thief views the world differently than her/his "sister" did in the...

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Word of the Week – Turkey
Word of the Week – Turkey

A couple weeks ago, my daughter asked why the animal is called a turkey and if it had anything to do with the country. I, naturally, said, "I don't think so . . . I'll look it up." Look it up I did--and quickly discovered that I was quite wrong with that "I don't...

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Word of the Week – Upbeat
Word of the Week – Upbeat

Quick word of the week today, and musical, since I just finished writing A Song Unheard. πŸ˜‰ In today's vernacular, upbeat means "with a positive mood"--but this is a rather modern connotation, only dating back to about 1947. It's thought to have come from the phrase...

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Word of the Week – Eccentric
Word of the Week – Eccentric

I have long loved the word eccentric for an odd, unique person. Ever since I learned it back in . . . middle school? . . . it was my choice word for those like me. A little different (you know, like someone who has scads of people living in her head begging to have...

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Word of the Week – Sappy
Word of the Week – Sappy

I honestly don't remember why I was looking this up . . . but I'll share the results with you anyway. πŸ˜‰ Sappy in a figurative sense of "foolishly sentimental" has been around for quite a while! Dating from the 1660s, it comes from an intermediate meaning of "wet,...

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Word of the Week – Fast
Word of the Week – Fast

What primary school student hasn't been correctly at some point for saying "fastly"? I know I was...and I know I've done the correcting too. But last week when my son said something about this, my husband and I decided to look it up (because really, why isn't that a...

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Word of the Week – & (Ampersand)
Word of the Week – & (Ampersand)

At Dictionary.com last week, my attention was grabbed by one of their slideshows about punctuation. Because, yes, I'm a grammar nerd. This has been well established. πŸ˜‰ But the very first slide was far and away the most interesting to me. & Ampersand Both of...

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Word of the Week – Cranky
Word of the Week – Cranky

We have one more week left of summer vacation. One more little week, then back to the homeschool grind we go. Needless to say, that has inspired a few sighs and a whimper or two (okay, perhaps that was more from me than the kids, LOL). With the end of days of freedom...

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Word of the Week – Class
Word of the Week – Class

Class. It seems like a simple word. One that has surely been around forever, right? Well, I looked it up last week because I wanted to make sure that classy was in use for a story. And instead I learned that the whole word was rather surprising. Class comes from the...

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Word of the Week – Kulturkampf
Word of the Week – Kulturkampf

Yes, that's right, today's word of the week is German. πŸ˜‰ In my edits for A Name Unknown, my editor had asked me to check the history of the phrase "culture war," as it felt modern. I'd used this phrase to describe events in Germany at the end of the 19th century,...

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Word of the Week – Chintzy
Word of the Week – Chintzy

If you look up chintzy, you'll find that it means: 1. of, like, or decorated with chintz. 2. cheap, inferior, or gaudy. But these days we don't all know what chintz really is, right? I had some vague recollection that it was a kind of fabric, but that was where my...

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Word of the Week – Tab
Word of the Week – Tab

Tab is a little word with a long history. I looked it up to check on the age of the phrase "keep tabs on" and found that the word itself goes back to Middle English, where it meant "a small strip or flap of material," interchangeable with tag. From the mid-1400s on,...

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Word of the Week – Aspirin
Word of the Week – Aspirin

No, I don't have a headache. Not today. πŸ˜‰ But this a word I'd looked up to make sure I could use it in a 1914 setting, so I thought I'd share the interesting pharmaceutical history that went along with it. Aspirin was a trademarked name, created in 1899 by German...

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Word of the Week – Ballet
Word of the Week – Ballet

This past weekend was full of ballet for my family, as my daughter danced in her theater's spring show, La Fille Mal GardΓ©e. I've never looked up where the word ballet comes from because, well...it's obviously French, right? As it turns out, yes and no. The English...

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Word of the Week – Crevice and Crevasse
Word of the Week – Crevice and Crevasse

The other night, my husband asked if crevice and crevasse were the same word. I, being the spelling nerd that I am, quickly replied that they were spelled differently, and insisted that crevice was a small crack and crevasse a large one. But . . . it did seem like a...

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Word of the Week – Heist
Word of the Week – Heist

After the release of A Lady Unrivaled in September, my Ladies of the Manor Series will be at an end. And my Society Thieves (if that's the name we keep) Series will begin. Now, given the title of the series, and the fact that the first book, as of this moment (again,...

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Word of the Week – Bang(s)
Word of the Week – Bang(s)

I was in middle school when I read L. M. Montgomery's Emily series. And man, did I love those! Even more than the Anne series, and that's saying something. I loved Emily especially, you see, because she was a writer. Need I say more? Well, in one of those books, Emily...

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Word of the Week – Kiwi
Word of the Week – Kiwi

Last week after hearing someone from New Zealand refer to themselves as a Kiwi, my hubby got curious as to where that word came from. So I obligingly looked it up. πŸ˜‰ Apparently the first thing to earn the name was the bird native to New Zealand. It's an imitative...

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Word of the Week – Mean
Word of the Week – Mean

I always find it interesting to see how very common words have changed over time--and mean is certainly one that has shifted around quite a bit! I'm going to focus solely on the adjective version of the word today, though it's worth noting that through the years, some...

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Word of the Week – Groggy
Word of the Week – Groggy

This is a simple one, but likely to be apt today, after I stayed up way too late last night watching the season finale of The Walking Dead. πŸ˜‰ But I took a nap first. And when my husband came in from working outside right after I got up, I said, "I'm still groggy."...

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Word of the Week – Fit the Bill
Word of the Week – Fit the Bill

I hope everyone had a wonderful Holy Week and Lenten season! I know some of you were reading along my 40 Days of Jesus challenge, and others weren't--and now it's back to usual blogging. (Only 3 days a week instead of the 6 of the challenge, LOL.) My next book...

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Word of the Week – Brainstorm
Word of the Week – Brainstorm

I'm busy working on a new project, which means the chance to look up a bunch of random words as I write them and then go, "Wait a minute. Did that exist yet?" Last week, I looked up brainstorm. I knew I'd looked it up before for a book set pretty early and deemed it...

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Word of the Week – Bedlam
Word of the Week – Bedlam

Last week, one of Xoe's vocabulary words was bedlam. And while her book told her what it means, this is my daughter. She also wanted to know where it came from. So naturally, Mama hops over to etymonline.com And I learned something! I never had any idea where the word...

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Word of the Week – Elf
Word of the Week – Elf

I am sometimes baffled by how things come into our cultural consciousness...and change over the centuries. Cue the elves. Elf comes from Germanic folklore, with equivalents in Norse and Saxon mythology. The word itself hasn't changed much since Old English in...

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Word of the Week – Ice
Word of the Week – Ice

Since it's getting rather frosty outside here in the Appalachians, I thought today we'd take a look at ice...or rather, at when some of its idioms came into use. =) Ice itself is from Old English, from Proto-Germanic is. There are cognates for it in quite a few other...

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Word of the Week – Advent
Word of the Week – Advent

I was surprised to realize this weekend past that the Advent season is officially begun--I thought it would start next weekend, but my calendar is obviously off. πŸ˜‰ As a child, I knew that advent marked the season leading up to Christmas...but it wasn't until later...

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Word of the Week – Anyway
Word of the Week – Anyway

This one is quick--but interesting! Anyway dates from 1560, though it was traditionally two words until the 1830s. And up until modern history, it was quite literally "any way." As in, Is there any way I can help you? I'll get there any way I can. It quite literally...

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Word of the Week – Knit
Word of the Week – Knit

About a month ago, a lady at our church volunteered to teach knitting classes. Having been crocheting since she was 9 and then knitting as well when she moved to our area and began working in a yarn store, Ms. Judith knows her stuff! I joined mostly because Xoe has...

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Word of the Week – Draw
Word of the Week – Draw

Last week, Rowyn was reading Amelia Bedelia, who classically misunderstands commands that include words with more than one meaning. Early on in the story, she's working on a list of chores from her employer, who instructs her to "draw the drapes." Naturally, she sits...

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Word of the Week – Command/ment
Word of the Week – Command/ment

At church this week a slight variation in translations of 2 John made us wonder at the difference between the nouns command and commandment. These different translations were using the words interchangeably, but then...why are there two different words? Both have a...

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Word of the Week – Romance
Word of the Week – Romance

Romance writers are often looked down upon by those who read "serious literature"--and have generally never even picked up anything labeled "romance," yet judge them anyway. And as much as we romance writers rail against that, it's a tale as old as--well, as popular...

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Word of the Week – Surf
Word of the Week – Surf

Back from vacation, but not quite ready to let go. πŸ˜‰ And so, today's word of the week will bring us a bit of the beach... Surf began its life as a noun meaning "waves coming ashore" in about 1680, though it was quite likely a variation on suffe, from the 1590s....

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Word of the Week – Espresso
Word of the Week – Espresso

It's release week for The Lost Heiress! So in honor of Brook, this week's Word of the Week is one of Brook's favorite things: espresso. Now, according to etymonline.com, espresso didn't come into the English vernacular until 1945. But the Italians had created caffe...

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Word of the Week – Hat
Word of the Week – Hat

Yes, hat. Not that there's any surprise in the fact that hat itself has been in the English language since the dawn of the English language. But I was interested in some of the idioms containing it. =) Specifically, today I said something about our right as women to...

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Word of the Week – School
Word of the Week – School

Today begins our first day of the 2015-16 school year! Xoe is somehow in 5th grade. I don't know how this happened. Isn't she still 5??? And Rowyn, who I swear was 3 just yesterday, is going into 2nd grade. I made the boy-o groan and the girl-o jump up and down with...

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Word of the Week – Booty
Word of the Week – Booty

Arrr! I occasionally have a pirate in my house--this is to be expected when one has a 7-year-old boy. I never quite know when a rather adorable little figure is going to appear with his sword in hand and demand all my booty. But last time he did, his sister--being so...

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Word of the Week – You’re Fired! (or sacked)
Word of the Week – You’re Fired! (or sacked)

No, not in honor of Donald Trump. πŸ˜‰ The question arose this past week with my hubby and son, as to where "fired" and "sacked" come from. So naturally, I ran out to my computer to answer it. Fire, as in to terminate employment, is an Americanism from about 1885...

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Word of the Week – Apple
Word of the Week – Apple

Yesterday my hubby called our daughter "The apple of my eye," and she looked at us like we were off our rocker. "The apple? How does an eye have an apple?" Good question, my girl. Good question. =) The word apple has been in English as long as there was English to be...

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Word of the Week – Skeleton
Word of the Week – Skeleton

Not to be gruesome or anything. πŸ˜‰ I was looking this one up to see when the phrase "skeleton in the closet" came about. Skeleton itself first arrived in English in about 1570, meaning a mummy, dried-up body, or bone remains. The word came from Latin, but the Latin...

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Word of the Week – Raptor
Word of the Week – Raptor

My son is 7. Which means he's obsessed with dinosaurs. Which means that he was in 7-year-old heaven when the new Jurassic World movie came out. Given that he has a really great grasp of "it's just a movie using robots and special effect"--we watched behind the scenes...

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Word of the Week – Scalawag
Word of the Week – Scalawag

Scalawag is one of those words that we think of as being a very old-fashioned insult--and it is...but it's not quite as old as some might think. Meaning "disreputable fellow," scalawag only dates from 1848. It originated in American union jargon, and though where it...

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Word of the Week – Aluminum V. Aluminium
Word of the Week – Aluminum V. Aluminium

One of my husband's favorite shows is Top Gear--the British version. Being a car show, they have cause to say lots of things that are different than how we say it in America. Boot, bonnet...and aluminium instead of aluminum. On one particular show, the presenter is...

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Word of the Week – Cheer(s/io)
Word of the Week – Cheer(s/io)

It's going to be a fun week around Writing Roseanna...so I thought I'd start us off with some fun, happy words. =) I suppose I should start with the root word, cheer. The earliest English reference to word, from about 1200, was from the Anglo-French chere, and meant...

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Word of the Week – Grapevine
Word of the Week – Grapevine

We've all heard it through the grapevine (and some of us might break into song at the mere mention...), but do you know where the saying comes from? I didn't--but I learned recently so thought I'd share. =) Grapevine, meaning "a rumor" or "information spread in an...

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Word of the Week – Fence
Word of the Week – Fence

So, duh moment. Did you know that the noun fence--like, you know, the thing around your yard--is from defense? Yeah. Duh. I'd never paused to consider that, perhaps because the spelling has ended up different, but there you go! It has been a shortening of defense with...

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Word of the Week – Field Trip
Word of the Week – Field Trip

My kiddos on a field trip to a one room school house last year Since someone asked me about this over the weekend, I figured, hey--already looked it up, might as well share! πŸ˜‰ Especially appropriate since this is our last week of school. Oh yeah. Right about now the...

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Word of the Week – Duck
Word of the Week – Duck

So, cute story. Way back when Xoe was just a little miniature thing (as opposed to now, when she's quickly closing the gap between our heights and wearing my shoes!!!!!), I read her the Little Quack books. In one, Little Quack is playing hide and seek with his...

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Word of the Week – Fan
Word of the Week – Fan

Many many moons ago, well before I discovered www.etymonline.com (for that matter, well before my daughter was born...I believe I was in college...) I was writing a story in which the heroine accused the hero of being a fanatic about football. He replied that he was...

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Word of the Week – Hi
Word of the Week – Hi

Since I wrote on the origins of hello last time, my daughter said that I had to look up hi for this week. =) So here we go! Far simpler than hello, LOL. Hi is most assuredly an Americanism, a greeting whose first recorded reference is from 1862. Interestingly, it's...

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Word of the Week – Hello
Word of the Week – Hello

I can't tell you how many times I've looked up the etymology of hello...but for some reason, I've never shared. Obviously time to remedy that! So the life of hello began with Old High German's hala, hola. It was an imperative form of halon, holon, which meant "to...

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Word of the week – Planetarium
Word of the week – Planetarium

My not-so-fabulous shot of the earth as seen at FSU's planetarium Last week, we were super excited to get to visit a local university and see the planetarium with our homeschool group. And of course, this being my family, the night before we were talking about the...

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Word of the Week – Spunky
Word of the Week – Spunky

Yesterday, my parents were describing a relative, and they said she was "feisty." Naturally, I had to pipe in with where that word came from (click here for that Word of the Week), and how I just haven't been able to use it ever since discovering its origins. So my...

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Word of the Week – Normalcy V Normality
Word of the Week – Normalcy V Normality

This one made me go, "Ha! Take that, everyone who uses the word I don't like!" πŸ˜‰ See, I was always a normality girl. But more and more often I'd begun hearing normalcy. And it drove me batty. Here, my friends, is why. Normality itself is a relatively new word,...

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Word of the Week – Shucks
Word of the Week – Shucks

I say it a lot, just to be cute. Aw, shucks. Every time I type it, I add an imaginary foot shuffle. No doubt inspired from some cartoon. But it never occurred to me to wonder where it came from. When I looked it up, it was kinda a "duh" moment. Appearing in writing in...

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Word of the Week – Sniper
Word of the Week – Sniper

Last time I blogged at Colonial Quills, I was talking about George Washington took advantage of the new rifled barrels to scare the wits out of the English, who thought every American to be an expert marksman. And indeed, we changed the rules of warfare by "sniping"...

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Word of the Week – Sunday School
Word of the Week – Sunday School

I was critiquing a few chapters for a friend of mine last week, and it led me to do some quick research--in which I learned something new, yay! =) Namely, about Sunday school. The phrase Sunday school dates from 1783. However, it wasn't religious instruction. On the...

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Word of the Week – Yankee
Word of the Week – Yankee

Another one whose credit goes to my kiddos, who this week asked, "Where did the word Yankee come from?" (We've been reading about the early days of America, you see...) I didn't have the answer to that one off the top of my head, so I popped over to my beloved...

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Word of the Week – Conscience
Word of the Week – Conscience

We think of our conscience as part of our spirit or soul...something that operates apart from thought. Our consciences are the little cricket on our shoulder telling us right from wrong. Right? It's something we feel in our gut and have to learn to listen to. Well the...

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Word of the Week – Willy-nilly
Word of the Week – Willy-nilly

Willy-nilly. It's a phrase I've heard most of my life, and I knew how to use it. But it wasn't until a few years ago, when I was reading an old book and saw it written a different way, that I had a clue where in the world this word came from. In this book, it was...

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Word of the Week – Raise V. Raze
Word of the Week – Raise V. Raze

A week or two ago, my best friend sent me one of those hilarious "someecards" photos on Pinterest that totally sums up my outlook on housework. I love this. But I'm also enough of a grammarian that I had to point out the typo, LOL. I was in college, reading all the...

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Word of the Week – Biscuit
Word of the Week – Biscuit

Last week, I made some truly beautiful southern-style biscuits (click the photo for the recipe). And oh, how delicious they were!! Of course, this being my family, the mere bread itself wasn't the only thing we worked on. My awesome children also had to ask, "So if...

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Word of the Week – Brat
Word of the Week – Brat

Here we are! A new year, and back on schedule for blogging. =) I had a lovely holiday, and I hope you all did too! So today, back to a word I'd looked up for the last section of The Outcast Duchess. I use it because it rhymes with a character's name, but I had to make...

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Word of the Week – Limelight – and The Winner!
Word of the Week – Limelight – and The Winner!

First of all, the winner of my giveaway is Susan Poll! Congrats! Now on with the word of the week. =) This weekend past was the annual performance of The Nutcracker by the ballet studio my daughter attends, so we were occupied with all things stage and dancing. I...

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Word of the Week – Jolly
Word of the Week – Jolly

Well here's one that made me smile. I have to say that most times when I hear the word jolly, I think of Christmas. Jolly old St. Nick, jolly elves, etc. And apparently, that's a good thing to think of! Though the word comes most immediately from Old French jolif,...

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Word of the Week – Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Word of the Week – Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Thought I'd go Christmasy for December. =) So today's Word of the Week is less a word and more the etymology of a story. Because my kids asked me, after I went through the original St. Nicholas story with them, when Rudolph came about, and I had no clue. As it turns...

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Word of the Week – Bucket List
Word of the Week – Bucket List

Okay, there's a debate about this in my house. I made the observation a few weeks ago, when someone on TV mentioned their "bucket list," that I was amazed at how quickly this term became a part of our daily vocabulary, when it was pretty much created by the movie. My...

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Word of the Week – Scene
Word of the Week – Scene

I found myself looking up the etymology of crime scene the other day. I had a feeling it was a bit modern...and I was right. The original phrase was actually scene of the crime (makes sense) and was coined by Agatha Christie in 1923. But there were some other...

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Word of the Week – Demur & Demure
Word of the Week – Demur & Demure

When words are this close in spelling, I always find myself wondering if they're related. And, yeah, occasionally get the spellings confused too. πŸ˜‰ This morning I was rereading what I wrote over the weekend and saw a time where I was using the verb, demur, but put...

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Word of the Week – Behave
Word of the Week – Behave

This is one I've wondered about for years but never paused to look up. Behave. As a kid, I would often joke that I was "being have." And I would always wonder what, exactly, "have" was, LOL. Well, I recently said something similar to my kids and decided to look it up....

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Word of the Week – Novel
Word of the Week – Novel

Hard to believe I've never looked this one up before, eh? LOL My daughter has asked me a few times where the word novel comes from. I had some inkling, knowing my roots and the fact that novel can mean both "something new" and the fiction stories I so adore. But this...

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Word of the Week – Perk
Word of the Week – Perk

Today's word comes to us by me literally clicking on a random letter at www.EtymOnline.com and then a random page within said letter and scrolling down until something caught my eye. πŸ˜‰ The lucky word was perk. The first meaning of perk in English came from Old North...

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Word of the Week – Some Movie Words
Word of the Week – Some Movie Words

We've all heard of the stars of the Silver Screen...but last week I found myself wondering about the term. Where did it come from? When  did it come from? Obviously after movies came about, but when? A simple answer to find. =) Silver screen was originally in...

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Word of the Week – Genes
Word of the Week – Genes

Good grief, I've been forgetting to blog left and right! Let's hope it's just that my last few weeks have been crazy, and now my brain will settle back into normal patterns. πŸ˜‰ We can hope... In my last pass of the fantabulous Veiled at Midnight, I came across a...

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Word of the Week – Recap
Word of the Week – Recap

As I'm sitting here blurry-eyed and sore-throated (sure, that's a word) after my trip to the ACFW Conference, I seriously considered skipping my Word of the Week post and doing a recap of the conference. Then, of course, my brain went, "Recap...hmm. I don't think I've...

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Word of the Week – Isle & Island
Word of the Week – Isle & Island

So, my husband made what I deem an incredible etymology discovery this weekend. That isle and island are completely unrelated words, from different roots. Color me baffled. The world island was originally spelled yland, and appeared in 1590...to replace the Old...

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Word of the Week – Level
Word of the Week – Level

We all know what level means, right? It's to be even, going neither up nor down. It's the state of being so, like the levels of a house. It's the tool that guarantees it. And all the idioms containing it arise from those. Sure. But I was quite surprised to learn that...

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Word of the Week – Rumbustious
Word of the Week – Rumbustious

In case you haven't heard yet, Love Finds You in Annapolis, Maryland is on sale until September 15! All digital versions are only $0.99, which is a waaaaaaaay lower price than it's usual $8+. If you were waiting for the right time to get this one, it's here. =) Amazon...

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Word of the Week – Pigment
Word of the Week – Pigment

My kids made me look this one up the other day, wondering if pig and pigment were related...giving that Xoe's been studying base words and prefixes and suffixes, this is a logical question. =) So away to www.etymonline.com I went. To discover that, as I suspected, no....

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Word of the Week – Profanity & Cursing
Word of the Week – Profanity & Cursing

 An always-hot topic in Christian writing circles is the use of foul language. Is it ever okay in Christian fiction? Some words? What about others? Why or why not? I have my own opinions on such things--namely, I don't use "bad language" but see no point in...

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Word of the Week – Hi
Word of the Week – Hi

Hi is one of those greetings that feels new to me, and which I usually avoid entirely in my historicals...though I've seen it in a few others. And so, I look it up. It isn't quite as new as I'd thought--as a greeting like it's used today, hi is from 1862 (though let...

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Word of the Week – Backfire
Word of the Week – Backfire

Don't you hate it when plans backfire? Ever stop to wonder how long they've been doing it--with that exact word, anyway? No? Well, pause to wonder. πŸ˜‰ One of the first meanings of backfire to find its way into English was a literal fire--one lit on a prairie to stop...

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Word of the Week – Hillbilly
Word of the Week – Hillbilly

I had no internet yesterday, so the Word of the Week is coming to us a day late. But I found a fun one, quite by accident. =) Growing up in West Virginia, I've heard the term "hillbilly" plenty of times. And of course, there are the famous ones from Beverly Hills. ;-)...

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Word of the Week – Soccer
Word of the Week – Soccer

With all the World Cup stuff going on right now, this one seemed appropriate. And is why my kids asked, "Why do we call it soccer and everyone else call it football?" So naturally, I looked it up. =) As it turns out, soccer comes directly from football...sort of. It...

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Word of the Week – Celebrity
Word of the Week – Celebrity

In the closing scene of The Lost Heiress, my hero is observing that someone has become a bit of a celebrity...so naturally, I had to look it up to make sure that it was in use like that in 1911. I discovered that celebrity comes directly from the Old French and Latin...

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Word of the Week – Sentence

I'm so, so happy to be all done working on the old house. Finished up all that on Friday, and spent 12 hours yesterday getting this house back in order and putting away all the stuff we moved over! It feels awesome to know that today will be spent at my computer, not...

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Word of the Week – Hazard Symbols
Word of the Week – Hazard Symbols

While we were in the doctor's office on Friday, we were musing about the biohazard symbol...and wondering what it meant and how it came to be chosen. So thanks to the wonders of smart phones, my hubby looked it up. πŸ˜‰ I'm just going to quote directly from the source...

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Word of the Week – Hang
Word of the Week – Hang

A place at which I love to hang out...Seascape by William Trost Richards, 1901 I looked this word up the other day to make sure "get the hang of it" would be an appropriate phrase to use in a book set in 1911--and discovered that there are a plethora of hang uses with...

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Word of the Week – Goose
Word of the Week – Goose

The honking of a family of geese wandering down to a nearby pond at 5:30 this morning was inspiring, what can I say? πŸ˜‰ Goose, meaning the water fowl, is not surprisingly old--really old, as old as English. Interestingly, the word's roots were not only for a goose,...

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Word of the Week – Shoulder
Word of the Week – Shoulder

Okay, so no, I wasn't just looking up shoulder. πŸ˜‰ But in looking up the origins of the phrase cold shoulder for my recently-finished Edwardian, I found several of the uses interesting, so I thought I'd share. Shoulder itself has been in English approximately...

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Word of the Week – Perfectionist
Word of the Week – Perfectionist

Short but sweet one today. =) I grew up with a perfectionist for a father, so it's a word I've known for, oh, ever. I too can be a perfectionist in a lot of things (housekeeping not among them, ha ha). Never had I thought to look up its etymology, though, until I came...

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Word of the Week – Shut Up
Word of the Week – Shut Up

I've watched a lot of historical shows and movies (shocker, right?). And I've also studied enough historical dialect that I can tell when they get something wrong (well, a lot of the time). And in so, so many, I've heard one character demand of another, "Shut up!"...

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Word of the Week – Snarky
Word of the Week – Snarky

On our writing retreat, Stephanie and I were working on books that took place within 15 years of each other. This is pretty new for us, LOL, and we had some fun conversations on what words were around back then. Our motto--"Surprisingly modern." The Snark Banker,...

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Word of the Week – Toilet
Word of the Week – Toilet

Last night I ate an orange. (I know--groundbreaking news, right? LOL) At which point Xoe came in and exclaimed over how lovely my hands smelled. Which prompted her cheeky question of, "Mommy, did you get new cologne?" I, naturally, said, "Now, now. These days cologne...

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Word of the Week – Retreat
Word of the Week – Retreat

A Cool Retreat by John William Godward, 1910 I have a writing retreat quickly approaching, and I am getting a little giddier at the thought with each passing day. =) But of course, I then have to pause and consider the word, because I'm just that kind of nerd, LOL. I...

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Word of the Week – Geek & Nerd
Word of the Week – Geek & Nerd

It's always fun to trace these words that have become names kids call one another...and eventually a banner of pride, LOL. Photo by Tommy Hancher Geek traces its origins back to 1510, surprisingly--and was even used by Shakespeare! The meaning has changed over time,...

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Word of the Week – Perfectionist
Word of the Week – Perfectionist

Practice Makes Perfectfrom a "Haft Paikar" of Nizamic. 1530 I'm surprised I haven't thought to look up the history of this word before, given that I come from a family of perfectionists. πŸ˜‰ I personally display such tendencies with some of my work, but not...

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Word of the Week – Hourglass
Word of the Week – Hourglass

Image by Martin Olsson For some reason, I had this image of an hourglass being really, truly ancient. Like Ancient Egyptian kind of ancient. I'm not sure where that idea came from...probably some movie, LOL. Or maybe just the idea of the sands of time obviously being...

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Word of the Week – A Few Trivializations
Word of the Week – A Few Trivializations

Now this is fantastic! C&E Dragon by David Revoy One thing I often flag when I'm editing and have to think about when I'm writing are those words that we use today in a rather un-amazing sense. Words that have come to mean an ambivalent "okay" or "nice." Words...

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Word of the Week – Colors
Word of the Week – Colors

We have so many beautiful color names, that all describe beautiful shades--which surely existed forever, right? Maybe...but the words sure didn't! So today, a few quick lessons on when some of those shade names joined the English language. =) Indian Pigments (image by...

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Word of the Week – Doorknob
Word of the Week – Doorknob

First of all, my apologies to anyone who missed my Thoughtful Thursday last week--I was taking a sick day. Just a cold, which I'm happy to say didn't get as bad for me as it did for my hubby. Not that I'm happy it involved a fever for the hubby--you know what I mean....

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Word of the Week – Escalate
Word of the Week – Escalate

Patent diagram of the first escalator ("revolving stairs") - 1859 This one got me. I admit it. I looked it up during edits on a WhiteFire book because I wasn't sure it was quite early enough in the sense used. And what do I find? A surprise! Escalate is new. Darn new....

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Word of the Week – Date
Word of the Week – Date

A Roman Calendar When I'm writing or editing historicals, much of my word nit-picking relies on gut and ear. If something feels too new or sounds too new (as in, I don't remember reading it in works of the period), I look it up. Which is how I came to look up date...

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Word of the Week – Fiesty
Word of the Week – Fiesty

The Duchess of Chevreuse as Diana the Huntressby Claude Deruet, 17th century We see a lot of historical heroines described as feisty--and why not? It's a great word, right? It means "spirited," right? Wrong. Though I just learned this recently, and now I'm wondering...

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Word of the Week – Blizzard
Word of the Week – Blizzard

The Blizzard by Cornelius Krieghoff, 1860 Given the awful winter weather striking so much of the country this year, this seemed like an appropriate word for the day. =) Though one I can't take credit for coming up with--one of my fellow Colonial Writers, the...

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Word of the Week – Bustle
Word of the Week – Bustle

First of all, I'd like too announce that next Monday will mark a pretty cool milestone around here--1,000 posts! Woot! I'll have to think up some fun way to celebrate. Ideas welcome. πŸ˜‰ Second, don't forget that if you haven't pre-ordered yet, A Hero's Promise...

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Word of the Week – Mistletoe
Word of the Week – Mistletoe

Christmas throughout Christendom, 1873 I thought it would be fun to examine some Christmas traditions this week and next. So while this isn't exactly etymology, it's still looking at origins. πŸ˜‰ The legend of mistletoe goes all the way back to Norse mythology. Baldr,...

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Word of the Week – Fix
Word of the Week – Fix

I was looking through a website called "You Can't Say That!" last week, which is dedicated entirely to words like I feature here. One of the entries that surprised me--and sent me scurrying to my latest manuscript to see if I used this when I shouldn't have, was fix....

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Word of the Week – Swell
Word of the Week – Swell

Hello, all! I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving week (for all you Americans out there. For all you internationals, I hope you had a lovely week too, even if it wasn't a holiday for ya). πŸ˜‰ You may think I was just relaxing and taking the week off from the...

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Word of the Week – Dash
Word of the Week – Dash

First of all, I did do the drawing last week for the winner of the digital of one of the Ellie Sweet books, and the lucky duck was Kirstin Whitener! Congrats, Kirstin! I know you'll love them!! This week I'll be starting a giveaway for a signed paperback of The...

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Word of the Week – Waffle
Word of the Week – Waffle

Last night my poor little Rowyn had a toenail come off (ouch!), and his papa said that that surely deserved as much consideration as losing a tooth. So Rowyn got to pick dinner. Hence how the White family ended up eating waffles, macaroni and cheese, and grapes, LOL....

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Word of the Week – Chum
Word of the Week – Chum

I called Xoe chum last week, and she gave me such a look! LOL--she only knew the word as "fish food," apparently. (Thanks, Spongebob. Really.) I had to tell her that it meant "friend" too. And then, of course, had to look it up to see where these two very-different...

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Word of the Week – Jitters
Word of the Week – Jitters

This classifies as another word that I knew was new, but didn't know was that new. Jitters entered English round about 1925--and it's not entirely clear where it came from. The best guess is that it's a variation of chitter, which had been a dialectical word for...

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Word of the Week – Cute
Word of the Week – Cute

Saw this one when I was looking up acute from last week. πŸ˜‰ If you recall, acute technically means "sharp." And so it's not great stretch for it to be applied to mental acumen as well as angles or illnesses. What I didn't realize is that cute is a direct shortening...

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Word of the Week – Acute
Word of the Week – Acute

Nearly forgot it was Monday! LOL But lucky for you, I remembered. πŸ˜‰ And so, I'm hear to talk about acute. This will be a quick one, but I found it kinda interesting primarily because of my own weird thought-processes. See, when I was learning about angles back in...

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Word of the Week – Index
Word of the Week – Index

Last week in the course of our homeschool day, somehow or another we got talking about what our different fingers are called, and my clever little Xoe asked me why the pointer finger is also called the index finger. Closeup from Michelangelo's Creation of Adam Insert...

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Word of the Week – Cucumber
Word of the Week – Cucumber

I'm back! All settled in (mostly) at the new house, with internet up and running--if you heard the "Hallelujah Chorus" ringing through the air last night, that was just me when my angel of a husband got it all set up. πŸ˜‰ My search for a word of the week started with...

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Word of the Week – Cool
Word of the Week – Cool

Thank you, Rachel Koppendrayer, for the inspiration for this week's word in your comment last week. πŸ˜‰ So cool has quite a fun history! Its primary meaning of "not warm" has been around since Old English days. No surprise there. And has also been applied to people...

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Word of the Week – Canteen
Word of the Week – Canteen

One of my historical writer friends asked about canteens a little while ago (namely, what they would have called them before they were canteens), which inspired me to look up the word. Canteen is from the French cantine, which means "sutler's shop." Which I had to...

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Word of the Week – Operative
Word of the Week – Operative

Leave it to Roseanna to browse through the dictionary for fun on the weekend. πŸ˜‰ Sunday as I was beginning to think about the Word of the Week, I popped over to www.etymonline.com and accidentally bumped the O section. Then thought, "Sure, go with it" and browsed...

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Word of the Week – Gumshoe
Word of the Week – Gumshoe

I looked this up the other day just for the fun of it ... and because I had never paused to think why PIs used to be called gumshoes. But according to etymology.com: "plainclothes detective," 1906, from the rubber-soled shoes they wore (which were so called from...

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Word of the Week – Student and Pupil
Word of the Week – Student and Pupil

It's the first day of school in our house, and the kids are rather excited. (Don't worry, it'll fade, LOL.) Their desks are organized (that won't last either...), they made their "1st Day of..." signs last night for pictures this morning, picked out their outfits (no...

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Word of the Week – Upbeat
Word of the Week – Upbeat

I have frequently been accused of optimism. I confess: it's a malady of mine. Why, after all, should I look at the dark side, when the bright side is right there? I just can't do it. And so, my critique partners nicknamed me RO. It's short for Roseanna-Optimist. I...

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Word of the Week – Tutu
Word of the Week – Tutu

Edgar Degas - Ballet at the Paris OpΓ©ra   I have a little ballerina in my family...and also a Fancy Nancy fan. So when she got her hands on Fancy Nancy: Too Many Tutus, you may be able to imagine the results--she had to go through her entire closet and pick out...

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Word of the Week – Deserts
Word of the Week – Deserts

Allegory of Justice by Gaetano Gandolfi "You'll get your just deserts!" Okay, confession. Because that phrase pronounces the final word as one pronounced the word for the delightful confections that make life worth living, I never once realized it's spelled with one...

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Word of the Week – Went
Word of the Week – Went

Sir Sumbras at the Ford by JE Millais, 1857 Hello, m'lovelies! I'm back from the beach and back to business. =) And while I was gone, a friend sent me a link to some awesome word etymologies, so I thought I'd share one with you today. So. We all know the word "wend,"...

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Word of the Week – Carnival
Word of the Week – Carnival

First, have you grabbed your free copy Fairchild's Lady yet? If not, check out Saturday's post for all the links to your choice of retailers! Now onto the Word of the Week. =) This will be short but sweet. Carnival. I confess that when I see the word, I mostly think...

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Word of the Week – Nose
Word of the Week – Nose

I love these words with a long history. =) To mix things up today, I'm going to present this one as a list. Wanna take a guess as to which one I was looking up for the end of my spy story? LOL Primary use (you know, the part of your face) - Old English Used of any...

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Word of the Week – Snap
Word of the Week – Snap

I'm in a sprint toward the end of Circle of Spies (woo hoo!), and in my marathon writing these last few days have been looking up a lot of words' etymology. This is the first time in a good while I've had a historical character prone to slang, and slang is so tricky!...

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Word of the Week – Gander
Word of the Week – Gander

GΓ€nsefΓΌtterung by Alexander Koester, 1890 On the road last week, silly conversation led us to the word gander. And I started to wonder whether the two meanings I knew of--a male goose and to look around--were from the same root, or if it were one of those cases where...

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Word of the Week – Scandal
Word of the Week – Scandal

I think we all know what a scandal is, and it's been in the English language pretty much forever. But there's a subtly to it I had never picked up on, and which one of our friends was talking about this weekend. When one goes back to the original Greek skandalizein,...

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Word of the Week – Tycoon
Word of the Week – Tycoon

In Circle of Spies, my villain is a railroad tycoon. Slightly tricky because I don't want to imply that any of the actual railroad men were anything like him, LOL, but I digress. As I was blasting through the scenes last week, I very nearly had my hero contrasting...

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Word of the Week – Debutante
Word of the Week – Debutante

Agnes Melanie Dickson as a debutante, 1890 Anyone who reads historicals, even 20th century historicals...or watches TV...knows what a debutante is. But as I started writing Colonial-set books, I was a bit surprised to learn the word wasn't around in the 1700s. And a...

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Word of the Week – Charade
Word of the Week – Charade

Another one I looked up in the course of writing. =) I knew that charades was a pretty old game, but I was interested in the metaphorical sense. And learned some fun things. Charade entered the English language round about 1776, obviously from French. The interesting...

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Word of the Week – Snoop
Word of the Week – Snoop

There's an awful lot of snooping going on in my current manuscript, so as Marietta and Slade go peeking into things Devereaux doesn't want them too, I had to pause to look up the history of the word. =) I discovered that the verb came first, debuting round about 1832....

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Word of the Week – File
Word of the Week – File

Very quick one this week, as I'm still on my writing retreat. =) (And have gotten over 20K written in just two days!) In quick research while writing, I learned something interesting about file. I think I was looking to see if a file folder would have been around in...

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Word of the Week – Virus
Word of the Week – Virus

Virus is another word that really surprised me. I guess because I know that viruses are so itsy-bitsy they require a high-powered microscope to see them...I just assumed they were a modern realization. And hence a modern word. Um, no. Virus has been around since the...

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Word of the Week – Ooze
Word of the Week – Ooze

Have you entered the giveaway yet for Susie Finkbeiner's Paint Chips and a piece of jewelry of your choice from her Etsy shop? If not, hurry! One more day! This one will be quick, but that's okay. I have galleys of Whispers from the Shadows arriving today, so no time...

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Word of the Week – Up
Word of the Week – Up

First, I'd just like to say that it's my baby boy's birthday, and he's FIVE! How did that happen? LOL. But anyway. On to the word of the week. =) I chose up not because of its literal meaning, of course, which has been in English forever, but because of some of the...

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Word of the Week – Ragtag
Word of the Week – Ragtag

Peasants Brawling by Abraham Diepraam(A ragtag collection, to be sure) πŸ˜‰ I had the pleasure of going over edits on Whispers from the Shadows last week, and my editor and I got to laugh about some of the not-in-use-yet words that slipped through. =) A few were...

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Word of the Week –  Catalyst
Word of the Week – Catalyst

Just for the record, I really hated to post something new today and push my lovely book trailer down the page. πŸ˜‰ But alas, it is Monday, so time to educate! Today we're delving into the world of science. Lavoisier, considered the father of modern chemistry Though I...

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Word of the Week – Seat
Word of the Week – Seat

Young Lady Seated at the Virginals by Johannes Vermeer, 1670 I was looking up back seat and saw these entries. And given that they came up in the search backwards (entry 2 before entry 1), I had a moment when I thought seat as in a place of government--like a county...

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Word of the Week – Talk Back
Word of the Week – Talk Back

Scolding by Jose Ferras de Almeida I have children. Therefore I have uttered the phrase (a time or two--ahem) "Don't talk back." Or perhaps occasionally, "No back-talk." But when I had a character using the same, I ran into a problem. Back-talk, meaning "an...

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Word of the Week – Slosh
Word of the Week – Slosh

A Wet Sunday Morning  by Edmund Blair Leighton, 1896 Wow, it feels like forever since I've done one of these! LOL. Ah, the holidays. =) But the Twelve Days and Epiphany are over, my tree is down, and it's back to the grindstone completely this week. One of the...

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Word of the Week – X-mas
Word of the Week – X-mas

1922 ad in Ladies' Home Journal I remember, as a child, writing stories and assignments for school around this time of year and occasionally using the abbreviation "X-mas" for Christmas. I remember teachers telling me not to use abbreviations in my assignments, and I...

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Word of the Week – Park
Word of the Week – Park

Estes Park, Colorado, Whyte's Lake by Albert Bierstadt, 1877 Happy December, everyone! I don't know about you, but with small kids in the house, the Christmas spirit has descended around here. Yesterday was spent making salt-dough ornaments, and this coming weekend my...

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Word of the Week – Snack
Word of the Week – Snack

I hope everyone (at least those of you in the U.S.) had a lovely Thanksgiving! Ours was great and led into a wonderful weekend. The best part of which was that I didn't have to cook since Wednesday, what with all the invitations to share leftovers. πŸ˜‰ L'enfant avec...

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Word of the Week – Water
Word of the Week – Water

Water as a--ahem--living force πŸ˜‰ Getting down the basics, aren't I? πŸ˜‰  I had actually looked up water to determine when "water closet" came to be used for a bathroom, but there were some other interesting entries too. And it starts with the beginning. Did you...

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Word of the Week – What
Word of the Week – What

Whistler's Harmony of Pink and Gray - 1881Yes, I chose it because of the year and its prettiness,not because of any other relevance. πŸ˜‰ I know, right? You're thinking "Her word of the week is what? Seriously? This chick is losing it..." πŸ˜‰ But hopefully you'll read...

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Word of the Week – Card
Word of the Week – Card

First of all, I would like to report that I finished up Whispers from the Shadows on Thursday! Woot! It checked in way too long (130,000 words instead of the 116,000 I was to shoot for), but everyone agrees that it's better to have too much than to run out of story...

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Word of the Week – Dream
Word of the Week – Dream

A Dream of a Girl Before Sunrise by Karl Briullov, 1830   This is a word that I had no idea had anything interesting to it so was very shocked to find such a long entry! And at this point, can't even remember why I bothered looking it up, LOL. Dream in the...

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Word of the Week – Nauseous
Word of the Week – Nauseous

Christ Healing the Sick by Washington Allston, 1813 Oh yeah, going for controversy this week. πŸ˜‰ So here's the deal. I've heard from quite a few sources that we moderns are misusing the word nauseous. That it ought not mean "to feel sick or queasy" but that it rather...

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Word of the Week – Depression
Word of the Week – Depression

Lesbia Weeping over a Sparrow by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, 1866 Depression. Which is what I would be in right now after the failure of my primary coffee pot if I did not have a French press to serve as backup . . . πŸ˜‰ Naw, seriously, this is another word I had to...

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Word of the Week – Network
Word of the Week – Network

Palermo: Fishing Net in Mondello by Dedda71 When one is writing a series about a secret espionage organization, one frequently finds oneself using modern words to describe this group. And then one must constantly check oneself and go, "Aw, man! That wasn't around...

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Word of the Week – Sketchy
Word of the Week – Sketchy

I was actually reading this weekend (oooo...ahhhh), and oh-so-enjoying losing myself in the pages of a fine historical. A fine historical that at one point made me pause when these 1866 characters used the word sketchy. Insert Roseanna narrowing her eyes and...

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Word of the Week – Crazy Synonyms
Word of the Week – Crazy Synonyms

I'm mixing things up today! Don't worry, there'll still be a wee bit of etymology here. But I also want YOUR thoughts. So this past week there were two different times when I wanted an old-fashioned word for crazy. I found one I was looking for, which is: by Giovanni...

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Word of the Week – Sit, Twiddle, and Twirl
Word of the Week – Sit, Twiddle, and Twirl

Idle Hours by Henry Siddons Mowbray   Today I'm going to examine the origin of a particular phrase rather than a particular word. πŸ˜‰ Friday, as I was working on Whispers from the Shadows, my hero was exclaiming something about how it was time to take action...

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Word of the Week – Wow
Word of the Week – Wow

This is a short one, but surprising. I always thought of wow as a modern word. So when I looked it up, I was shocked to see that it's from 1510! Wow is a Scottish interjection, one of those that arise from a natural sound we make when surprised by something. Much like...

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Word of the Week – Mean
Word of the Week – Mean

Mean is one of those words that I knew well would have been around forever, but I looked it up to see about some of the particular uses. And as usual, found a few surprises. =) As a verb, mean has meant "intend, have in mind" even back in the days of Old English. No...

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Word of the Week – Zone

The other day I was looking up "war zone," and in so doing came across some interesting tidbits on zone. =) The noun dates to the late fourteenth century, coming directly from the Latin zona, which means "a geographical belt, celestial zone." The Latin in turn comes...

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Word of the Week – Doodle
Word of the Week – Doodle

From time immemorial--or at least since the rise of pencil and pen and paper--people have been scribbling nonsensical pictures onto the page when they're thinking. We call it doodling. But apparently we've only been calling it that since 1935. I had no idea it was...

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Word of the Week – Grandfather

Well, we just got back from a trip to Texas, and I'm still in get-situated-back-at-home mode, so this will be a short one. =) But last week I had to look up when grandfather clocks came to be called grandfather clocks (can't believe I even thought to question that...

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Word of the Week – Appropriate
Word of the Week – Appropriate

Last week while in the car, we were trying to figure out why "appropriate" (adj) and "appropriate" (v) are spelled exactly the same, pronounced differently, with what we deemed very different meanings. (Yes, my whole family is apparently word-nerdish, LOL.) A Favor by...

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Word of the Week – Sober
Word of the Week – Sober

Obviously a sober-minded young lady πŸ˜‰ One of the words my editor said was distracting in Ring of Secrets was "sober." I used it a couple times instead of "serious," which is, of course, valid. Which she knew. But the modern definition... πŸ˜‰ I decided to look it up...

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Word of the Week – Lowlife

Last week I had the pleasure of going over edits of Ring of Secrets with my awesome editor, and she proved her awesomeness by discovering some words I hadn't thought to look up but which were way too new for my 1780-set book. One of the most surprising is lowlife. It...

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Word of the Week – Whatnot

Waaaaaaaaay back in 2006 when I started submitting a historical manuscript, I had an editor respond saying that some of words were too modern. Like "whatnot." Now, I won't argue that some of my words were indeed too modern. But that she chose that one as an example...

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Word of the Week – Neighborhood

It was a long time ago at this point that my daughter asked me why it was called a neighborhood. At the time, I said something like "Uh . . . well . . . um . . . I don't know. Why do you think?" We came up with a nice, totally fabricated story about the houses all...

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Word of the Week – In/flammable

One of my all-time favorite Simpsons moments is when the quack doctor, Dr. Nick Rivera, insists when a flaming ring lands on a tank of laughing gas (I think it is...), "Don't worry. It's inflammable." and is  promptly exploded. To which he replies, "Inflammable...

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Word of the Week – Reckless

My 4-year-old boy just decided to take the wheel of their little mini John Deere Gator the other day, so you can imagine my inspiration for this week's word. πŸ˜‰ Reckless is one of those that always confused me as a kid. I mean, why was it reckLESS when you were...

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Word of the Week – Company

This weekend we had a great time with our out-of-town visitors, my friend (and fellow WhiteFire author and editor, and critique partner) Dina Sleiman and her husband. So in the spirit of enjoyable company, I thought I'd look at the word. πŸ˜‰ Sine the mid-12th century,...

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Word of the Week – Veteran

Since it's Memorial Day, I thought I'd take a look at some appropriate words. =) I know I did "memorial" last year, though, so today we're going with "veteran." I was a bit surprised by how old this one was for some reason. Since 1500 it has carried the meaning "old...

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Word of the Week – Plant
Word of the Week – Plant

Every time we go to my mom's we see the power plant across the river--and every time, my kids ask, "Why's it called a 'plant'?" And every time, I go, "Uh . . . " At one point I made up an answer--and what do you know, I was right! LOL    Plant is from the...

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Word of the Week – Mayday
Word of the Week – Mayday

My kiddos asked me the other week where "mayday" came from, and I finally remembered to look. I ought to have posted this one on May 1st, May Day (ha  . . . ha . . . ha . . .) but didn't think to. Mayday, according to "The Wireless Age" from June 1923, is an...

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Word of the Week – Weekend
Word of the Week – Weekend

Don't you just love the weekend? That beautiful, sanity-saving time from Friday night until we wake up for work or school on Monday. It's lovely. It's brilliant. It's necessary. Yet really, it's kind of new! The word "weekend" dates back to the 1600s, but it meant,...

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Word of the Week – Condo (plus my Croquet outfit)
Word of the Week – Condo (plus my Croquet outfit)

This is a bit silly and short a word, but I was totally surprised to learn it was so new! Well, the word condominium is from 1714, but it carried the meaning of "joint rule or sovereignty" and was word used in politics and international law. Until, that is, in the...

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Word of the Week – Ice

An unexpected cold front and winter storm system is moving through the mid-atlantic--we're only getting rain here, but a few miles to the north and up a few mountains, they're supposed to get a foot of snow. Yikes!  But of course, that means it's the perfect day...

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Word of the Week – Hand
Word of the Week – Hand

There are so many fun phrases involving the word "hand" that I decided it was time to share some. =) I remember several years ago looking up "to know something like the back of one's hand." I had a hard time finding it but eventually discovered that it's from the...

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Word of the Week – Hot Dog!

Last Friday I journeyed with the kids, my sister's family, and my parents to the Pittsburgh zoo. We had a great time seeing all the animals, and even the car ride was fun (over two hours away). On the way home, somehow or another we got talking about food, and Xoe...

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Word of the Week – Easter

Since it's Holy Week, I thought I'd try to find a word that looked forward to the path that Jesus walked in these next few days--and I knew "Easter" had some background, so it was the winner. πŸ˜‰ When Anglo-Saxon Christians first started celebrating the Mass of...

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Word of the Week – Balderdash

Gotta say, I love the word "balderdash." (Though I have a hard time 'hearing' the word without imagining a top-hatted English gentleman huffing it in an upper-crust accent, LOL.) And it has a long history with the English language. =) Balderdash came into English...

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Word of the Week – Schedule

Schedule. It's something we use every day. A time table we keep. An action we perform daily for things like, oh, blog posts. πŸ˜‰ As both a verb and a noun, it's a word in such common use that I was shocked to discover it didn't take on that oh-so-known meaning until...

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Word of the Week – Thank

"Thank" seems like a pretty basic word, right? It's obviously been around for a while. Say, as long as manners. πŸ˜‰ Still, there's been some interesting evolution of the word! Interestingly, "thank" and "think" share a root--"thought, gratitude" is the meaning of the...

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Word of the Week – Figure

What a striking figure. No, not that lady over there, the one I figured out for the math problem. Go figure, right? I know, I know--it's just a figure of speech. πŸ˜‰ Figure obviously has a lot of meanings, both as a noun and as a verb. It entered the English language...

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Word of the Week – Snob

There's little I like more than realizing a word in common use today has come to mean the opposite of what it once did.  Snob is definitely one of those words. It appeared in English from some mysterious place, and scholars aren't sure of its origins--just that...

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Word of the Week – Finagle & Maneuver

You get two for the price of one today. =) I can't tell you how many times in historical writing I have the urge to use the word "finagle." You know, like She finagled him up the aisle. Or He finagled his way out of it. Something to convey some tricky footwork, so to...

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Word of the Week – Cool

Cool. It could be argued (successfully, I think) that cool is a word that not only gets used, but over-used. It's the word we use to mean someone is hip, fashionable, or has that certain something that sets them apart as desirable. Or, spinning off that, it's the word...

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Word of the Week – Show

This ranks as one of those "who'd a thunk?" late arrivals to the English language. Not in every sense, of course, but I think you'll be surprised by some of the years on this! Okay, so "show" as in act or performance is as old as you might expect, coming from the...

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Word of the Week – Sensation(al)

As usual, my word of the week comes from last week's writing experience. =) My heroine has just spent weeks preparing a performance, which went off without a hitch. Her father comes up and says, "You were a . . ." Sensation is what I want to say. But that sounds a bit...

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Word of the Week . . .Vacation

My husband has been asking for months and months, "When's my vacation?" Working for himself as he does, he can rarely take a day off. This weekend we traveled a few hours to visit friends for a birthday celebration, and we looked at it as a mini vacation. Which of...

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Word of the Week – Motivation

It's the first Monday of 2012, and though we may not all make resolutions, I imagine many of us are thinking about what we want to do differently this coming year, and what we won't want to budge on. We're embracing the idea of a fresh start in some areas and...

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Word of the Week – Yule
Word of the Week – Yule

In Old English, Christmas day was called geol (not to be confused with gaol, which is jail--ha ha ha), taken from Old Norse jol. Jol was a heathen feast day, taken over by English so long ago that no one's sure exactly when it happened. Though we do know that "jolly"...

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Word of the Week – Get Back
Word of the Week – Get Back

I was browsing through the entries for "get" over at www.etymonline.com, trying to discover when "get-go" came into being. Well, I didn't find that (maybe it's been around from the get-go. Ha . . . ha . . . ha . . .), but I did find some interesting info on "get...

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Word of the Week – Cameo
Word of the Week – Cameo

I can't tell you how much time I spent chasing rabbits down trails (literarily speaking) for a one-line mention in my books. Like, did they have bells over the doors in 18th century New York? Hard to discover. This last week, one of my random questions was,...

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Word of the Week – Morphine

I know, I know--what a strange, bizarre word of the week. And now y'all are probably wondering what I got into this weekend! πŸ˜‰ Actually, it comes up because I'm a cruel author who just seriously injured her hero. I need him to be out of it for a while so said, "Hmm,...

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Word of the Week – The Backup Plan

The other day as I was writing in my work-in-progress, I hit a spot where my heroine's mother is pushing an eligible man toward the heroine (metaphorically, or course, LOL), and my heroine reminds her that she is all but engaged--to which Mama says, "It never hurts to...

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Word of the Week – Just Kidding

I like the word "kid." I use it with my children (do you know how hard it was for me to write that sentence without using the word "kid"? LOL), I use it for jests. It's a standard part of my vocabulary. But I'll never forget the substitute teacher in high school who...

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Word of the Week – Halloween

I've given Halloween a lot of thought since having kids, have debated it and pondered, have looked up its history and tried to decide where I come down on it. Inevitably, I come to the conclusion that, like a Christmas tree or the face of Jesus most often used (stolen...

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Word of the Week – Kudos
Word of the Week – Kudos

I've studied Ancient Greek. As in, took 2 years of the language, in addition to reading a slew of the texts. So things Ancient Greek I like--and tend to use. And assume I know pretty well. πŸ˜‰ And so, I've never hesitated to use the word "kudos" in a historical...

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Word of the Week – Neighborhood

Yesterday in the car, I looked out at the bright blue sky and had a Mr. Roger's moment--I started singing "It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood" and my daughter asked, "Why's is called a neighborhood? Does it have anything to do with the hood of a coat?" I'd never...

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Word of the Week – Fiancee

It's always baffling when I think to look up a word that I take for granted and realize that it's a relatively new addition to the English language. I had this experience with the words fiancee/fiance a couple years ago, when I first began writing Love Finds You in...

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Word of the Week – Autumn

It's that time of year again. The leaves are turning colors, the weather is turning cooler, and the pumpkin vines are taking over my yard. Okay it's the first year we've planted pumpkins, so this is a first--and a lesson to us on where NOT to plant them next year!...

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Word of the Week – Fiddle (dedee, faddle, and sticks)
Word of the Week – Fiddle (dedee, faddle, and sticks)

Everyone knows what a fiddle is, right? Or what it means to fiddle. It's a violin. More, it's a colloquial use (that usually denotes the rural or country or south) at this point. Why? The word has been used since the late 14th century, it's perfectly legitimate. Why...

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Word of the Week – Iridescent
Word of the Week – Iridescent

How do you describe a pearl? It doesn't shine like other gems. Doesn't shimmer, has no fire. It gleams, yes. But it's the rainbow of color that really sets it apart. That . . . you know, the pearlized effect. πŸ˜‰  Its iridescence. I can never think of a more...

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Word of the Week – Holiday

My word of the week is "holiday," not only because today is Labor Day, but because this week all my posts are going to be gearing up toward 9/11. Which isn't an official holiday, I know, but I think for all of us it's a day of remembrance. "Holiday" is a fairly...

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Word of the Week – Shack
Word of the Week – Shack

I know, I know--you probably see my word of the week and wonder, "Why in the world is she talking about shacks?" Well see . . . um . . . LOL. Mostly because I needed to describe some ramshackle dwellings in my book a few weeks ago and was surprised to learn how very...

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Word of the Week – Pawn

My hubby and I get a kick out of watching the History Channel's Pawn Stars. They have some truly awesome stuff come in there that does a history-lover's heart good. =) So as I was browsing through interesting words today, I thought we'd talk about pawning and hocking...

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Word of the Week – Ain’t

I grew up in West Virginia. My house was on a hill above a farm, the Potomac River surrounding it on three sides--which means Maryland on three sides, for all you folks who aren't intimately acquainted with mid-Atlantic geography. πŸ˜‰ For the most part, people from my...

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Word of the Week – Proposal

I'm in the process of putting a book proposal together . . . which naturally gets me to thinking about the word. As a kid, I had no idea the family of "propose" words could mean anything other than asking someone to marry them--until, of course, I read or watched...

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Word of the Week – Shock

There I was, tippity-tapping away on my story, eyes (surely) intense as I put my poor heroine into a terrible situation. Knife at her throat, blade glinting in the lantern light. But that isn't the villainy--the villainy is in the news he imparts. News that sets her...

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Word of the Week – Ketchup

'Tis the season for cookouts and barbecues, and I'll use that as my excuse for talking about ketchup, LOL. Really, it's because I recently discovered its history, and it's just too bizarre to our modern minds not to share. =) When we Americans think of ketchup, we...

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Word of the Week – Patriot

I love being an American. I'm proud of my country, I admire our roots, and I truly believe in the ideals on which we were founded. I will sing "God Bless America" from the top of my lungs! I don't think my country's perfect by any means--but it's mine. I'm a patriot....

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Word of the Week – Adventure

It's officially summer--a time to get out and do. Right? Blue skies, warm sun, green leaves, and a whole world awaiting. My kids have been seizing the summer, and it makes me grin. Rowyn's often found digging in the dirt, adopting worms as pets. Xoe's latest thing is...

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Word of the Week – Ecstatic

There are times when I use a word, when I remember distinctly seeing it in older books, but when it isn't until I look up its etymology that I remember the subtle differences that have evolved in said word over time. Ecstatic is one of those. I remember learning this...

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Word of the Week – Birthday

Yesterday was my honey's birthday, so I thought I'd take a look-see at the word and see if it's as old as I assume it is. The answer? Mostly. πŸ˜‰ The Old English form byrddΓ¦g meant an annual celebration of one's birth, but was used mostly for saints and kings. It...

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Word of the Week – Passport

Passport - it's pretty literal. "The authorization to pass through a port." Not surprising, right? What surprises me is that the word (and hence the concept of a noun to embody it) is from around 1500. I had no idea it was that old! (The one in the picture is French,...

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Word of the Week – Memorial
Word of the Week – Memorial

No thought at all went into selecting this week's word. =) Given that today is Memorial Day and all, here we go! Memorial. Memorial is a word straight from the Latin memoriale, so it's been in English approximately forever. Since the late 14th century it's been used...

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Word of the Week – Longueur

This week's word comes to us courtesy of Dictionary.com's Word of the Day. =) It's my homepage, and occasionally I so love the words they highlight that I just have to share. So, longueur. Ever heard of it? I hadn't, I confess. It's pronounced long-GUR, and here's the...

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Word of the Week – Intelligence

Intelligence is a pretty old world. It's been around since the 14th century, meaning exactly what it does now. And even the secondary meaning--"information gathered, especially by spies"--dates back to the 1580s. I found this pretty surprising. As I'm doing research...

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Word of the Week – Debut (And a debut!)
Word of the Week – Debut (And a debut!)

Today I'm tickled pink to announce the debut of a new group blog called Colonial Quills. About, you guessed it, authors and books focused on early American history! I'm proud to be a contributor to the blog thanks to my upcoming Love Finds You in Annapolis, Maryland...

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Word of the Week – Understand

I can't say as I've ever understood why, when we comprehend something, we stand under it. So this week we're working to understand the word understand. =) According to the wonderful world of www.etymonline.com (one of the best resources IN THE UNIVERSE!), this word,...

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Word of the Week – Amen

Every night, the family gathers around for bedtime prayers. I start off with a prayer of thanks for the day, for protection that night, for a good day following, and for anything else pertinent to that particular day. Then Xoe adds her bit, Rowyn either cheerily says...

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Word of the Week – Coffee

You can tell I'm longing for my first cup, right? Yes, this week we're looking into the wonders of coffee. I mean, of the word. πŸ˜‰ Word of the Week - coffee The best guess of the awesome www.etymonline.com is that our word coffee came from the Italian caffe, which...

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Word of the Week – Fiasco

I was actually going to talk about the word "fiance," and how it entered (or perhaps re-entered after British folks stopped speaking French in the middle ages) English surprisingly late, but I mis-typed, got curious, and discovered that "fiasco" is way more...

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Word of the Week – Adorable

My best friend Stephanie put in a word of the week request, so today's dedicated to her. πŸ˜‰ Today's word of the week is . . . Adorable. And Stephanie brings it up for a good reason. As modern parents, we use the word adorable a lot. And usually for our cute little...

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Word of the Week – Giddy

Can't say as I've ever looked up the etymology of "giddy" before, but since I've been using it to describe my emotional state all week, I decided it would be an appropriate Word today. =) (For any who haven't yet heard why I'm giddy, check out my "Woo Hoo!" post.) In...

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Word of the Week – Handsome

I don't often pause to examine the etymology of words like "handsome," which have meant what they mean for centuries, and so I can use freely in all my manuscripts. But once in a while, it's fun to see how it came to mean what we know all those hundreds of years ago....

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Word of the Week – Cheat

First of all, I'd like to say I think about this phrase for my books ONLY. πŸ˜‰ It recently came up in a manuscript I'd read, where a character says, "He cheated on me." Obviously, we all know what she meant. "Cheat," is in fact the most common way these days to say...

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Word of the Week – Schadenfreude

Perhaps I ought to start with a pronunciation guide of this one, eh? πŸ˜‰ Schadenfreude (SHAHD-en-FROY-de) is something we've all probably felt, and felt the sting of. Loosely defined, it's a noun meaning 'malicious satisfaction taken at the misfortune of others.' When...

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Word of the Week – Cleave

I maintain that "cleave" is one of the most bizarre words in the English language. Why? Because it means two exactly opposite things. Cleave, definition 1 - to stick, cling, adhere to something closely. Cleave, definition 2 - to divide, to split, to cut Um . . ....

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Word of the Week – Macaroni

Yes, you read the title right. Today I'm bringing to you an enlightening treatise on the word "macaroni." =) Now, in my house "macaroni" is synonymous with "the most common food to be found, because it's the only thing my kids are 100% guaranteed to eat." But as with...

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Word of the Week – Pedestrian

While I'm far, far away from working on modern books, I thought I'd introduce a new feature on Mondays for now. Actually, I owe the idea to two Facebook friends, who responded to one of my word-nerd moments with the thought that I should do a word-a-day on my blog....

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