The Etomeelo… Atomolo… Etymolololo… Etymology of “Discombobulate”

"Discombobulate" was one in a series of words invented in the early to mid-1800s as part of a fad popular among educated high-society types who made up faux words by compiling Latin prefixes, suffixes, roots and other non-Latin components into silly-sounding combinations. Discombobulate itself is used to mean "confused" or "disoriented" now, but originally meant… Continue reading The Etomeelo… Atomolo… Etymolololo… Etymology of “Discombobulate”

On the Importance of Looking Up Words

My book, Once Upon a Word: A Word-Origin Dictionary for Kids (Rockridge Press, Feb. 25, 2020), is dedicated to a woman named Nanette Quinn. You can read the dedication below.  Let me tell you a bit about Nanette Quinn. When I was in high school, I took French with Nanette Quinn, whom we called Madame… Continue reading On the Importance of Looking Up Words

4 Etymology Facts for Jane Austen’s Birthday

December 16 is Jane Austen's birthday, so today we'll explore a few intriguing etymology facts related to her and her wonderful works. The word prejudice first meant "contempt" more broadly, rather than today's sense of a specific bias. It comes from the Medieval Latin prejudicium, "injustice." Our current meaning connects more to the older Latin… Continue reading 4 Etymology Facts for Jane Austen’s Birthday