When I was in 5th grade, I read the dictionary.
Yes, I know – the image you had in your mind of me being a ridiculously popular 5th grader is now forever marred by the realization that I was instead the nerd carrying around the Oxford in secret. *AHEM*
I thought the dictionary was one of the coolest things of all time, (until I got into my Johnny Depp phase, but we’ll have plenty of time to discuss that at length later)…
Okay, since you asked:
It wasn’t until later in life that I discovered something even BETTER than the dictionary. It came as a surprise from a friend, who was cleaning out her dorm room in Uni. Stacked amongst biology textbooks and those godawful physics workbooks with Boyle’s law scrawled all over them was something so wonderful, so… epic, that I would have stolen it if she hadn’t offered it me to me freely.
What was this majesty of the written word?
A dictionary of WORD ORIGINS. A thing of wonder that not only explains WHAT words are, but WHY words are. The connections between the words themselves and their MEANINGS was now at the tip of my fingers. (cue Whole New World theme from Aladdin*)
Long, Johnny Depp inspired story short, I thought it would be nice to introduce you to another side of the words you use everyday (or, you know, every so often).
If you dig it, I’ll try to post one a week along with my random commentary that you can whip out at cocktail parties.
First up: FLAMINGO!
Flamingos get their name from their reddish-pink plumage, which earned them the epithet FIRE-BIRD (how cool is that?)
This was expressed in the southern French coastal areas (where there were tons of flamingos) as flamenc, deriving from the latin flamma (flame) and Germanic ‘ing’ (belonging to)
SO: flamingo = belonging to flame! Not bad for a stork-legged hot pink bird, huh?
BONUS Random Science Fact!! — Flamingos (or as you will now remember them as – flame birds, get their coloring from the food they eat – shrimp. If a flamingo doesn’t eat shrimp, it stays white. This is why flamingos are born with white feathers, and gradually turn pink/red/flamboyant as they age.
* I’ve probably subconsciously given you a hankerin’ for some Disney, so here you go!