(703) 875-7630
Dictyon Language Services


Archive for September, 2013


Life is a Bowl of Cherries-es

Life is a Bowl of Cherries-es

Like 'pea', 'cherry' was formed on the erroneous assumption that a final-s sound signals a plural. This faulty singular 'back formed' from Anglo-French 'cherise' or 'cirice', from Latin 'cerasus', from Greek 'kerasos'. Two more words that have been mistakenly taken as plurals are 'kudos' and 'biceps'. The former comes from Greek 'κύδος' (praise, glory), and […]


They Look Like Two Peases in a Pod

They Look Like Two Peases in a Pod

The original singular for the word "pea" was "pease" (Middle English plural: "pesen"). "Pease" was used as both singular and collective, just like words for grains (wheat, corn, barley) or animals (sheep, deer, swine, buffalo, fish, trout, etc.). The sound on the end was reanalyzed as a plural 's' marker and, at the end of […]


Mr. Portokalos, do you like noranges?

Mr. Portokalos, do you like noranges?

The original word for orange was ‘norange’ (fr. Arabic naranj<Persian narang<Sanskrit naranga-s), but lost its initial 'n' probably by confusion with the indefinite French article ('une norange'). The first Persian varieties of this popular fruit were imported to Italy in 11c. and were bitter. The sweet variety that we all know today was introduced to […]


Copper, Cyprus, and a little… iron

Copper, Cyprus, and a little… iron

The word ‘copper’ comes from the Latin form of the name of the island of Cyprus, where this metal was mined in ancient times. In Latin, 'aes' meant copper and thus, 'Cyprium aes' meant 'Cyprian copper'. However, as bronze, copper's alloy with tin, became far more extensively used than pure copper, the meaning of 'aes' […]