November 30, 2007


It just struck me that an etymologist would surely fall in love with an apple. Heres why

1. As American as apple pie
2. In apple pie order
3. As easy as apple pie
4. An apple a day, keeps the doctor away
5. The apple of my eye
6. Upset the apple cart
7. Comparing apples and oranges
8. A rotten apple

Duh! I prefer eating it.

November 24, 2007

Darby and Joan

Darby and Joan - An elderly married couple who live a placid, harmonious life together and are seldom seen apart.

In 1735 Henry Woodfall, a printer's apprentice, wrote a ballad titled "The joys of love never forgot: a song" about a happily married elderly couple. His inspiration for those characters was his own boss John Darby and his wife Joan:

"Old Darby, with Joan by his side,
You've often regarded with wonder:
He's dropsical, she is sore-eyed,
Yet they're never happy asunder ..."

He wrote this poem after Darby's death. This poem in turn became an inspiration for follow-up poems and eventually Darby and Joan became a metaphor. In the UK, clubs for old people are still called Darby and Joan clubs. Below is a pic of D&J figurines.


November 03, 2007


Quisling - traitor

I seem to be in love with eponyms. There's something fascinating about people whose lives in fame (or infamy) help enrich a language. Today's word is a commonization of the last name of Vidkun Quisling (1887-1945), a Norwegian fascist politician who helped German Nazi forces to occupy Norway during World War II. Thereafter, he was made the head of the puppet government. After Germany's loss in the war, he was tried and convicted of high treason and executed.

The term quisling for traitors was coined by the British newspaper, The Times, in 1940 when they titled an article "Quislings everywhere". The word means traitor not only in English but in several European languages. Something like a modern-day Judas???

Trivia: In a wartime Norwegian cartoon, "Audience with Hitler, Quisling says: "I am Quisling", and Hitler replies: "And the name?".

Sources:,, Wikipedia

Images: Google: Quisling with Hitler