Codswallop, Crumpet and Caper / Words and where they came from

We English may not be renowned for our skilful use of foreign languages, but many of the words we use everyday are foreign in origin. Codswallop, Crumpet and Caper by Edward Allhusen (Old House Books) reveals over 1300 words that started life in other countries and is the perfect Christmas gift for anyone interested in the richness of our language.

Here are some seasonal words you may not know the origins of:

– from the Latin Ad meaning to and Venio to come, as applied to the coming of Christ.

– from the Old English Bousen, meaning to drink in excess.

– from Old French and Breton Carole.  A circle dance.  Before becoming Christmas songs carols were accompanied by dancers.

– A cathedra was a chair in which Greek and Roman philosophers sat to deliver their orations.

Karaoke – from the Japanese Kara meaning empty and Okesutora meaning orchestra.  Karaoke is a form of entertainment for which the words are removed from the music.

– from the Old Norman Molda to bury.  Ale given at funerals was always warmed and called molde ale or funeral ale.

– from the Sanskrit Naranj meaning Orange.  The fruit entered the English vernacular as ‘a Naranj’.

Whisky from the Irish Uisge-beata meaning Water of Life.  The Latin Aqua Vitae and French Eau de vie mean the same thing.

Yule – from the Old Norman Jol – a twelve day midwinter pagan feast.

‘Codswallop’ itself comes from the name of the man who patented a method of retaining fizz in a bottle of drink, Hiram Codd, and the slang term wallop meaning any poor quality drink. The term was added to Codd’s name by competitors keen to discredit him. They were apparently successful as the codswallop now means nonsense!

Edward Allhusen, author and publisher, lives in Devon and is currently available for interview. For more details, download the press release below or contact [email protected]

_Comment on this post

You must be logged in to post a comment.