Thursday, June 05, 2008

World Wide Words

Have you ever used the expression "I have to see a man about a horse" and wondered where it came from? Well, I did, and I found a rather lengthy and interesting explanation on Wikipedia. One of the sources cited in the article was Michael Quinion's World Wide Words which attempts to explain a lot of English words and expressions in use around the world.

This isn't a place to let your students explore, as you can imagine there are some rather "colorful" and risque words and/or explanations, but it is a valuable resource for teachers.

Here is an explanation of the word "meme":

The idea, and the word, go back to Richard Dawkins’ book The Selfish Gene, published in 1976. He argued that ideas are capable of being transmitted through a population, to the extent that they must be thought of as somehow independent of the human brains that host and spawn them. He coined the word meme for such concepts as skills, habits, stories, songs, inventions or ideas that are passed from person to person by imitation. Dr Blackmore enlarges on this: “Everything you have learned from somebody else is a meme”.

You'll also find explanations for "throw in the towel", "cock and bull story", "crocodile tears", "acid test" and a whole lot more!

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