Jun 6, 2019

Random Thursday

We've still a ways to go in the Words chapter in The Little Book of Answers by Doug Lennox. This chapter is proving to be rather fun too!

(image borrowed from Wikipedia)
Fires that are large and controlled are called bonfires. On June 24 aka St. John's Day, early Britons would light a chain of fires to support the diminishing sun. They used clean bones of dead animals in these fires and called them "bone fires" which eventually evolved into "bonfires." They had several types of fire; bone, wood, and a mixture of the two that was called a "St. John's fire." This particular fire was used to burn heretics at the stake.


(image borrowed from Youtube)
 In olden times, "talent" was a unit of weight that was used to value gold and silver. The modern version of the word comes from the Book of Matthew in which three servants are given equal amounts of "talent" aka money. Two of them invest wisely and profit from it while the third buries it and doesn't profit. The morale of the story is that we must use our talents wisely and not waste them.

That's an interesting story! I like it!

(image borrowed from Inky Fool)
 Hobnobbing is socializing and this word comes from the time when the Normans conquered England and introduced the open hearth for cooking and heating. Each corner of the hearth had a large container for hearing liquid and was called a "hob." Near the fire was a table where the hob was set out for serving people and the table was called a "nob." Therefore when people started to drink warm beer from the hob that sat on the nob, it was called "hobnobbing."

Whoa. I felt like I was reading a nursery rhyme almost! 

(image borrowed from UNC-CH Residence Hall Association)
Notes about a business meeting are called "minutes" because they are to be short and abbreviated so the minute-taker can get everything down. Minute (my-noot) meaning small, was used to describe this condensed writing. Since the spelling was the same (my-noots) became minutes.

A little confused as to how my-noots is the same spelling as minutes, but whatever!

 (image borrowed from Psychology Today)
Extortion money is called "blackmail" and it gets its name from the reign of James I. "Mail" is a Scottish word for rent or tax; during James I's reign taxes were paid in silver and because of its color, it was called "white mail." In the 16th and 17th centuries, bandits along the Scottish border made farmers pay them for "protection." Since black signifies evil, this extortion soon earned the name black tax, or "blackmail."

That's another interesting factoid!


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