Mental Floss’s “11 Words You Might Not Realize Come from ‘Love’ ”

Happy Belated Valentines Day, readers!

Yes, I know I missed it, but I was way behind on my last post and needed to get it up ASAP. So, here we are. Pretend for me that it’s still Valentines Day?

Todays post is borrowed from one of my favorite publications, Mental Floss. They put up this lovely post for V-Day, and I enjoyed seeing how many ordinary words have their roots in the reason for this particular season.

Let’s take a look!


11 Words You Might Not Realize Come from “Love”

By Mental Floss contributor Arika Okrent


In Old English, believe was geliefan, which traces back to the Germanic galaubjan, where laub is the root for “dear” (so “believe” is “to hold dear”). Laub goes back to the Proto-Indo-European root for “love,” leubh.


We got furlough from the Dutch verlof, which traces back to the same Germanic laub root as in believe. It is also related to the sense of leave meaning allowance or permission (“get leave,” “go on leave”). The “leave” in a furlough is given with pleasure, or approval, which is how it connects back to love.


Old English Frigedæg was named for Frigg, the Germanic goddess of love (and counterpart to the Roman Venus). According to the OED, frīg was also a noun for “strong feminine” love.


Venom comes from the Latin venenum, which shares a root with love-goddess Venus, and originally referred to a love potion.


The root of amateur is Latin amare, “to love.” An amateur practices a craft simply because they love it.


The Latin caritas, which ended up as charity in English, was a different kind of love than amor, implying high esteem and piety, rather than romance and passion. It was used to translate the Ancient Greek agape, the word used in the New Testament to express godly love.


Greek had another word for love, philia, that—in contrast to agape and eros (sexual love)—meant brotherly or friendly love. It’s used in many classical compounds to signify general fondness or predilection for things. Philosophy is the love of sophos, wisdom.


Love of anthropos, humanity.


You might know it as the “city of brotherly love,” but you might not know that the tagline is right there in the name. It’s love for adelphos, brother.


The name Philip comes from the compound phil– + hippos, love of horses.


Have you been taking acidophilus probiotic supplements for digestive health? It’s made from acid-loving bacteria, i.e., bacteria that easily take up an acid dye for viewing under the microscope.


Thanks Mental Floss! Again, to see the original article, check it out here. Also, if you like reading about words that derive from the Greek word “phil”, meaning love, check out my post about “philias”!


The Votes are In!: 2015 Words of the Year

It’s an annual tradition for the big names in the dictionary community to look over the newest and more notable words of the previous year and decide on what they believe were the most significant.

2015 did not disappoint. Amidst popular nominations like “deflategate” and “dadbod”, the community took a fast and loose approach to choosing their”word” of the year. 2015 official choices include a rising gender neutral pronoun, a suffix, and…yes… an emoji.


“In 2015, saw a number of themes emerge in the words that gained enough traction to be added to the dictionary along with words that trended in user lookups. The most prominent theme across both of these areas was in the expanding and increasingly fluid nature of conversations about gender and sexuality. Additionally, the theme of racial identity led to some of the most notable headlines and new additions to this year.

Encapsulating the most robust fields of language evolution and user interest this year,’s 2015 Word of the Year is identity.”- & American Dialect Society


“One intriguing choice has emerged among language scholars: they  used as a gender-neutral singular pronoun. While they has filled the gap for centuries when speakers and writers have needed a third-person singular pronoun that does not specify gender, this year it has taken on new prominence.” –

“The use of singular they builds on centuries of usage, appearing in the work of writers such as Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Jane Austen. In 2015, singular they was embraced by the Washington Post style guide. Bill Walsh, copy editor for the Post, described it as “the only sensible solution to English’s lack of a gender-neutral third-person singular personal pronoun.” While editors have increasingly moved to accepting singular they when used in a generic fashion, voters in the Word of the Year proceedings singled out its newer usage as an identifier for someone who may identify as “non-binary” in gender terms.” –American Dialect Society

Want to see more of the ADS nominations? Check them out here.




“A suffix is the Word of the Year because a small group of words that share this three-letter ending triggered both high volume and significant year-over-year increase in lookups at Taken together, these seven words represent millions of individual dictionary lookups.” –Merriam-Webster


The Oxford Dictionary


“That’s right – for the first time ever, the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year is a pictograph: 😂, officially called the ‘Face with Tears of Joy’ emoji, though you may know it by other names. Emojis (the plural can be either emoji or emojis) have been around since the late 1990s, but 2015 saw their use, and use of the word emoji, increase hugely.

This year Oxford University Press have partnered with leading mobile technology business SwiftKey to explore frequency and usage statistics for some of the most popular emoji across the world, and 😂 was chosen because it was the most used emoji globally in 2015. SwiftKey identified that 😂 made up 20% of all the emojis used in the UK in 2015, and 17% of those in the US: a sharp rise from 4% and 9% respectively in 2014.” –Oxford Dictionaries


Collins Dictionary


“‘Binge-watch’ (To watch a large number of television programmes, especially all the shows from one series, in succession) has been named Collins Word of the Year 2015 thanks to a dramatic increase in usage.”  –Collins


Around the World

Want some more WOTY’s? All of the above were English choices, so here are some other selections from various languages and countries around the world.

New Zealand: Public Address

Quax:  to shop, in the western world, by means of walking, cycling or public transit.

Australia: Australian National Dictionary Centre 

sharing economy : an economic system based on sharing of access to goods, resources, and services, typically by means of the Internet’

South Africa: LitNet Journal

#: The word of the year is the hashtag symbol.

China: Chinese National Language Monitoring and Research Center

: incorrupt

Japan: Japan Kanji Aptitude Testing Foundation

The kanji for “an”: safety or security

Spain: Fundación del Español Urgente & Portugal: Porta Editora

Refugiado: refugee

Germany: Langenscheidt

Smombie: A teenage who is too engrossed in their phone to pay attention to where they are going as they are walking down the street


Interesting Note: Entities in Spain, Portugal, Germany, and Denmark all had a variation of “refugee” as their Word of the Year.


Want more? The Oxford University Press put together an amazing list of more 2015 nominations and choices. Check it out here.

The Fungus (Names) Among Us

With names like Asterophora lycoperdoides and Cortinarius alboviolaceus, you can imagine how unsurprised I am that the names of fungi aren’t exactly common dinner party conversation. But what if I told you those two genus of fungi also went by the names ‘Powdery Piggyback’ and ‘Pearly Webcap’?

Interested now? Me too!

All it took was a Mental Floss article about “70 Totally Amazing Common Names for Fungi“, and I was hooked. In addition to their scientific names, most genus of fungi also have a common English name (and that’s where they get really fun).

The whole list can be found here on the British Mycological Society’s website. They even have a process for naming the fungi, which has its own protocol and approval process. Is it just me, or would you love to be part of the meeting to determine whether to accept names like ‘Big Smoky Bracket’ or ‘Lawyer’s Wig’?

Here are a few of my favorite English names from the Mental Floss list, with a picture added:

Twisted Deceiver Edit

Turquoise Elfcup Edit

Snaketongue Truffleclub Edit

Pink Disco Edit

Scurfy Twigliet Edit

Purple Jellydisc Edit

Dewdrop Dapperling Edit

Plums and Custard Edit

Destroying Angel Edit

Devils Fingers Edit

Bulbous Honey Fungus Edit

Cinnamon Jellybaby Edit

Dark Crazed Cap Edit

Contorted Strangler Edit

Cabbage Parachute Edit

Bonfire Cauliflower Edit

Barometer Earthstar Edit

Crypib Bonnet Edit

Drunkstick Truffleclub Edit


Can’t get enough? Here are a few more wonderful names that I found on the full list:

Scarlett Caterpillarclub, Bug Sputnik, The Miller, Chicken Run Funnel, Dwarf Spindles, Golden Navel, Giant Puffball, Deceiving Bolete, Sandy Stiltball, Ringless Honey Fungus, Hintapink, and Potato Earthball.

(Resources: Mental Floss, The British Mycological Society, photos of the fungi from various sources but the images are my own)

Merry Xmas, Everyone

It’s my favorite holiday and the most wonderful time of the year! My house is covered in Xmas lights, presents for my family are stacked until my Xmas tree, and I’ve already started putting on my Xmas weight.

Now, why do I keep repeating Xmas? Lets talk about it.


I’m sure you have all heard about people being offended at the use of “Xmas” instead of “Christmas”. It’s often  because they believe that it’s disrespectful to Christianity and its intent is to “remove Christ from Christmas”. Is there any truth in this?

Nope. Not at all.

I can see why some people might prefer the full traditional/proper spelling, but the idea behind the shorter version was never meant to be offensive. The shortening of Christmas to Xmas actually goes farther back in history than many other Christmas traditions (I’m looking at you, Elf on the Shelf).

The “X” in Xmas actually comes from the Greek spelling of Christ: ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ. That first letter is the Greek letter Chi (rhymes with shy). So, Xmas is literally an abbreviation of ‘Christ’ and ‘Mas’. The X is not marking out Christ, as some might say, but just a shortened version of the name that religious scholars have been using for years.

And, in fact, its even more powerful than that. The letter Chi was used by early Greek scholars to indicate something “good” or “notable”. The symbol, later merged with the Greek letter Rho, became a powerful religious symbol called the Chi-Rho.



Emperor Constantine even went to battle with the Chi-Rho on his flags. At a time when the modern Christian cross wasn’t used, the Chi-Rho was THE symbol for Christianity.

I love how the blog So Long As Its Words puts it: The Chi-Rho “is what we call a nomen sacrum, a sacred name, in which the symbol itself has power. In such cases, the abbreviation is not used to save space or effort, but because that form has more power than the full words. It was ‘not really devised to lighten the labours of the scribe, but rather to shroud in reverent obscurity the holiest words of the Christian religion’.”

As early as 1485, the Chi alone began being substituted for the name of Christ in words such as christened and names like Christine and Christopher. The Online Etymology Dictionary points to 1551 as the first year that we started seeing the Xmas abbreviation.




With Xmas/Christmas coming up, I want to thank each and every one of my readers for checking out my little blog. I hope you have a wonderful holiday (whichever one you celebrate) with family, friends, and fattening foods!

Resources: So Long As Its Words full article, Today I Found Out,, Mental Floss
(Want more proof? Even Snopes, the reigning king of rumor/myth debunking, is eager to clear this up for you.)


Sometimes you come across a blog that is so hilarious, you have to share it when it relates to your own material. Names are words and words are names, so I give you: Stupid Nail Polish Names.

The blogger (whose name isn’t disclosed) writes about exactly what you would think… the ridiculous, poorly punctuated, and sometimes completely racist names given to nail polishes. The blogger covers a variety of different brands, but I chose 13 of my favorites from O-P-I, one of the best known names in the nail polish game.

The commentary makes me laugh out loud every time, so the excerpts you will see below are all from SNPN. Enjoy!


Lemonade Stand By Your Man

Lemonade Stand By Your Man

“Honey, let me give you a little advice. If you are having issues with your man, you might want to consider whether they spring from the fact that you appear to be the owner and operator of a lemonade stand, a time-honored profession practiced primarily by eight-year-olds. Statistically speaking, this means that your man is probably either a pre-teen or a pedophile.”


I’m Not Really A Waitress

“That’s right, honey, you’re a nail polish.”


Give Me Moor!

“Wow, really? Really? How did nobody’s offensiveness radar go off when you named a nail polish after a race of people, colored it to approximate their skin tone, and then asked to possess them?”

Deer Valley Spice

Deer Valley Spice

“Here is a list of things that should be named “Deer Valley Spice”:

1) A scented candle used in a hunting lodge

2) The mildly scandalous gossip column on the back page of a Massachusetts preparatory school newspaper

3) The cologne dabbed behind the ear of an ever-so-smooth 46-year-old gentleman as he prepares to head out to the local bar with all the temptingly tipsy co-eds

4) An exotic blend of seven different kinds of pepper that you buy at Williams Sonoma because it’s only $8.95 and you just know it will give your arugula salad that little extra something, but no matter how hard you strain your taste buds, it just tastes like regular pepper, and then you realize that you don’t even like arugula

5) The racy series of novels that results when the Sweet Valley twins grow up to find that the Unicorn Club has developed into a prostitution ring…but can Elizabeth’s journalistic skills save the day?

This nail polish, however, is none of these things. Nor is it remotely near the color of a deer, a valley, or any spice found in nature.”


Miso Happy With This Color

“This name is pretty subtle, so let me break it down for you. You see, “miso” sounds like “me so,” which is what all Asian people say instead of the grammatically correct “I’m so.” Man, sometimes people who grow up speaking a different language don’t have a perfect grasp of English. Ha ha, I sure love to laugh at them for trying!

Also, I love how in classic OPI style, randomly inserting the name of a soup (a soup that is not even remotely the same color as this nail polish, I feel obliged to pedantically point out) makes this a brilliant pun.”

Friar, Friar, Pants on Fire!

Friar, Friar, Pants on Fire!

“However, I have to question the accuracy of this particular polish name. Do friars even wear pants? I mean, I’m sure they do now, but the traditional image is a cassock or something, isn’t it? I admit that “Friar, Friar, Vestments on Fire!” doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.”


Baby It’s “Coal” Outside!

“Really? This was the nail polish you were so excited about that you busted out the exclamation point?

Here’s an idea: if you only have enough currency at the Punctuation Store to pick out one present for yourself, how about investing in a comma? I know, it doesn’t have the flash of an exclamation point, but the upside is that you will look a lot less like an idiot, with the pleasant side-effect of being grammatically correct.”

Uh-oh Roll Down the Window

Uh-oh Roll Down The Window

“Too late, this nail polish name already made me vomit.”


Fiji Weejee Fawn

“I just…I just don’t even. What is this? I would accuse this bizarre and incomprehensible name of being selected by the world’s least propitious random noun generator, but that would be far too generous considering that an entire third of this name is not in fact a noun and is not, so far as I can tell, even a word at all.”


(And my personal favorite…) Princesses Rule!

“I’m pretty sure that, by definition, they don’t.”

A few BONUS names:


Catherine The Grape


Vould U Like A Lick-tenstein?

Don't Socra-tease Me!

Don’t Socra-tease Me!


Like what you read? Make sure to check out the SNPN blog for the full commentaries. The last post was made in August of 2014, but here’s to hoping that it becomes active again someday!

Resources: Stupid Nail Polish Names, photos from “Nail Polish Diva” or OPI 

Mental Floss: What do you call…

Remember the day you learned that the dot on the top of a lower-case “i” was called a tittle?

I love learning obscure words for everyday things, so I wanted to share a fun infographic from Mental Floss with all kinds of names that you may have not already known! Check it out below, or the full image here.


Extra fact: A tittle isn’t just the dot on an ‘i’ or ‘j’, but it has a larger meaning of any ‘small distinguishing mark’, or to indicate an extremely minor detail. The word can be found in the Christian Bible, in Matthew 5:18: “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.”


Hello dear readers!!

The craziest month of the year for writers is fast approaching, and I couldn’t be more excited. Just as I have done for the three years, I will be participating in NaNoWriMo 2015 in November (What is that, you ask? Check out the link!). Not only will be I writing 50,000 words in one month, but I am also the Municipal Liaison (aka city organizer/event planner) for my region. This means a lot of fun, but time-consuming, work. To be able to give this responsibility my full attention, I will be going on a brief hiatus from Once Upon A Lexicon, but I’m looking forward to being back with you at the end of the year!

Thanks for reading,