Off topic: Word origins- Match up the word on the left with its origin on the right
Thread poster: RominaZ

RominaZ  Identity Verified
English to Spanish
+ ...
Sep 9, 2011

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Wonderful word origins

Below is a list of ten words with etymologies that are interesting, unusual, or perplexing. See if you can match the word on the left to its origins on the right.

Match up the word on the left with its origin on the right (no peeking!):

How many did you get right?

See the answers here >> Oxford Dictionaries and post your score here


Jan Willem van Dormolen  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:56
English to Dutch
+ ...
6 Sep 9, 2011

I got nrs. 1,2,3,7,8,9 right. Don't think that's too bad for a non-native speaker, is it?


filippoc  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:56
Italian to English
+ ...
7 Sep 9, 2011

1,2,3,4,7,8,10 right.


Egils Turks (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:56
English to Latvian
+ ...
8 right Sep 9, 2011

I got 2 wrong: 5 and 7.


Fernanda Rocha  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:56
English to Portuguese
+ ...

7 right too! Sep 9, 2011

1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8 and 9.


[Edited at 2011-09-09 15:10 GMT]


Berna Bleeker
Local time: 10:56
Member (2011)
English to Dutch
8 correct Sep 9, 2011

I got 4 and 10 wrong


Phil Hand  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:56
Chinese to English
Er, what? Sep 9, 2011

I don't mean to spoil the quiz, I mean, it's a fun enough game. But what on earth does the question mean?

Match up the "word"... I get that bit

... with "its origin" - what!?

To take an example which I'm sure everyone gets:

"sinister" "left". OK, so a word which looks a lot like sinister once meant something like "left" in another language. Over time and through a number of historical linguistic processes, we've ended up with the word "sinister", meaning suspicious and shady; and another word completely for "the opposite of right".

That's not quite the same as saying "left" is the origin of "sinister".

As people who work with languages, and who are perhaps more aware than others of the interesting ways words change between languages, we should be a bit careful about promoting this rather slapdash way of talking about words. I'm a bit surprised Oxford put it up, to be honest.


Phil Hand  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:56
Chinese to English
PS Sep 9, 2011

I'm just trying to cover up for the fact that I only got 8 here!


Clive Phillips  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:56
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
I confess... Sep 9, 2011

...I got the remaining two, only because I was pretty sure of the others. If they'd been stand-alone questions, I'd have failed to get them.

And I had always thought that "oxymoron" was derived from the (Ancient Greek?) words for "bright-dark".

Etymology is fascinating. I remember aeons ago my English school teacher explaining why in Yorkshire there is (or was) a North, West and East Riding but no South Riding : .
He said that "folk etymology" explained the term by claiming it took a day to ride a horse from one end of a Riding to the other (a dubious supposition).


Catherine Bolton  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:56
Italian to English
+ ...
100% Sep 10, 2011

I got them all! So the day's off to a good start.
Thanks, that was fun!


Ruth Wöhlk  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:56
Spanish to German
+ ...
7 !! Sep 10, 2011

Seven is a lucky number, I think, but I'm not licky with this result.
Well, but not too bad.
I liket this kind of "games", were can we find others?


United Kingdom
Local time: 09:56
+ ...
10/10 Sep 10, 2011

I confess though that two of them were guesses and I probably wouldn't have picked the right ones if I hadn't been sure of the other eight.


Kaj Genell
Local time: 10:56
English to Swedish
+ ...
poh! Sep 10, 2011

8 out of 10. But it could a been worse, i.e.: 5 out of 11.icon_smile.gif


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Word origins- Match up the word on the left with its origin on the right

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