etymology

An Etymological Curiosity: The Shark

Published on Thursday, 25 February 2016

So I have come across an interesting word in English: "Shark." All the (highly reputable) etymological resources I have available to me say that the origin is unknown. Perhaps this isn’t such a mystery as they would claim. As sharks are not common in the North Sea or waters around the UK, the first recorded use of the word “shark” in English was that of adventurer John Hawkins displaying the carcass of one in London in 1565 after his journey to South America. Interestingly, the secondary meaning of the word, to indicate a swindler, appears in print as early as 1599.

A proposal for how to say the word "primer"

Published on Wednesday, 23 April 2008

English has stupid spelling rules. I say this as someone who has never had much trouble with spelling. What would be nice is if we made sure to honor those words that actually follow the basic rules. The most glaring example is primer. In the United States we prefer to say PRIM-mer. Perhaps this is the result of American feelings of inadequacy at being a rough and wild outpost of the British Empire some 200 years ago, so we thought PRIM-mer sounded more erudite. Well, despite their frequent mutilation of the language (i.e.

Subscribe to etymology