You may not have had the term ‘malapropism’, but I am sure you know what a malapropism is when you hear it! It is when you get one word mixed up for another and as a result change the meaning of a sentence completely.
For example you might mean to say to your friend, “I’m bored, let’s go watch telly”, but what you actually say is, “I’m bored, let’s go eat telly”. 🙂
What is a malapropism, and why does it have such a funny name?
This little flower gets a raw deal, often regarded as a weed to be dug up, but it is actually quite pretty, with its bright yellow colour and distinctive leaves. Even the etymology of its name is pretty. Millie explains the origin of dandelion, and how people in other countries refer to this cheery flower.
Today is election day in UK, when the citizens of the country choose their new government. You can read all about how the elections work here. You wouldn’t think that dress codes of ancient Rome would affect the elections of today, but they do! Millie Slavidou explains.
Today is a good day to think about the word ‘candidate’. I rather like the etymology of this one.
It comes from Latin candidus, which is the past participle* of candidare, which meant ‘to make white, to make bright’.
Not because of whitewashing whatever the candidates might have said or done! It was because in ancient Rome candidates who wanted to be elected either to the Senate or any other office wore white robes.
If we take it one step further back, to a root meaning ‘white, shining’, we find that ‘candle’ is a cognate.**
The past particle is the past form of the verb that can also be used as an adjective, like “a fallen tree”. In the case above, the adjective is like saying ‘whitened’ in English. Other examples of past particles are:
past particle: bitten
example: a bitten apple
past particle: chosen
example: aa chosen present
past particle: crashed
example: a crashed bicycle
A cognate is a distant relative, a word ultimately from the same root. Like a third cousin. Here are some examples of cognates.
Germanic runes were originally inscribed on tablets made of beech wood. Modern German for book is Buch!
Today’s featured image is Marasmiellus candidus, a type of mushroom. You will often find the word ‘candidus’ used in botany or biology to describe something that is white, such as crocus candidus or the white woodpecker Melanerpes Candidus. There is even a white monkey called Propithecus candidus.
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