Beeline is the most direct route and word is based on observation of how bees move back towards their dwellings after they’re done feeding on nectar of flowers. This nectar is converted into slimey goo which is enjoyed by us as honey.

As the crow flies is also a synonym based on how groups of crows flies back to their dwellings once they’re done with their business. I wonder if there are birds or insects who don’t follow direct routes–oh yes, bats certainly don’t as they use echolocation–finding path by using very high frequency waves which tell them about objects after getting reflected back from them–a very fine development indeed–because they can sense audio frequencies much higher than human audio range(20Hz to 20KHz). Echolalia is another related term–meaningless babbling of infants. Bats are only birds who are mammals too. Ostrich is a bird which can’t find the most direct route back to home as it can’t fly–though it can run super fast–can it beat Cheetah in agility? Cheetah is another word which is used in Hindi the same as in English. I think spots on its body (chitti–chitra) are behind the origin of its Sanskrit name. 



Empathy is the ability to understand and appreciate how others feel, especially when they feel distressed and it’s an integral part of being compassionate. Empathetic is someone showing empathy and it’s synonymous to empathic which has a very slightly different way of being spelt. Pathetic on the other hand is someone in a wretched condition-deserving pity. 

All these words are based on Greek root Pathos which means ‘feeling.’ But as a stand-alone English word Pathos means a distinct quality which can evoke feelings–if you’ve pathos you’ve poignancy, you can invoke feelings inside others. Pathological, another related word directly taken from Greek, means study of diseases or related to diseases–in the second sense it takes a negative connotation and unlike first sense which is merely a type of study it starts indicating something gone wrong–in which case ‘pathos’ takes a connotation to mean ‘suffering’ or negative feelings instead of meaning feelings in general–but even in case of words empathy, empathic and empathetic the negative meaning of root is being used–you must be able to understand when someone is suffering in order to be called ’empathic’ otherwise you might be suffering from a pathological condition known as psychopathy or you might be called a sociopath–reluctant to interact with people and might even be a misanthrope–having a disgust towards human relations!


cuckold is a man who has been betrayed by his wife. If your wife cuckolds you, she is cheating on you with a different man.

This is an old-fashioned word you can find in many Shakespeare plays, though cuckolding is certainly older than Shakespeare and will always exist as long as there are marriages. A man can’t cuckold a woman: only a wife can cuckold her husband. By sleeping with another man, she makes her husband a cuckold.

late Old English, from Old French cucuault, from cucu ‘cuckoo’ (from the cuckoo’s habit of laying its egg in another bird’s nest). The equivalent words in French and other languages applied to both the bird and the adulterer; cuckold has never been applied to the bird in English.
The word Cuckoo primarily means a Native American bird–also used informally for a bozo or a goofball–that seems to be the origin of Cuckold.  Interestingly when I searched the  meaning of the term Cukold in Hindi it gave व्यभिचारी which is completely off the mark. In some cases a person’s wife might decide to cheat on him because he’s immoral as we see all the times in movies and stories but in the context here व्यभिचारी doesn’t do any justice because person is actually incompetent and thus gets cheated by his wife. The wife in this case is व्याभिचारिणी and not the man. Google translation is completely off the mark and I suspect there is no equivalent term in Hindi.

Continue reading “Cuckold”


English is a funny language with some inherent structures which are beyond the understanding of even eminent linguists leave alone lay persons. There are plenty of usages which confound us but here I am going to talk about a simple word which I have almost always interpreted to have opposite of its actual meaning.

accurate   inaccurate

correct      incorrect

valuable   invaluable

In case of the first two words here, the prefix ‘in’ creates words which are antonyms but in case of  valuable it gets confusing. Invaluable doesn’t mean worthless-it means something which is so valuable that its cost can’t be estimated. Clearly when valuable joins the prefix ‘in’ its value magnifies positively instead of becoming negative as usual for other words. Arithmetic rhythm is at work here or so it seems.

P.S. : I am sure there are plenty of cases where prefix ‘in’ doesn’t make the antonym of the word it’s added to-another example is habitable and inhabitable which mean the same thing. In a way valuable and invaluable are antonyms–if valuable is taken in a negative sense-then something valuable has a limited value whereas invaluable is so precious that its value can’t be esteemed.


All Sundry and Water-balloons!

I’ve heard word Vim for a long time without ever being curious to know its meaning. The reason is its being used by a company which manufactures bars to clean kitchen-wares. I thought it might be just a fancy word without any meaning and etymologist in me didn’t get triggered even once-obviously I’ve not heard the phrase vim and vigor either.

All illustrations and references are courtesy of

Vim is an odd-looking word, but it stands for a simple concept: being ready for activity, especially vigorous activity. Someone who is always playing sports or going on trips is full of vim. Someone who lies on the couch watching TV all day shows very little vim. This word often appears in the phrase “vim and vigor.” If you have vim, you have energy and you’re ready to put that energy into all sorts of activities; you’re up for anything.

Continue reading “All Sundry and Water-balloons!”

Some Interesting Eponyms!

These eponyms have been taken from the list Some Obscure Eponyms on

Nicotine is most commonly known for occurring in tobacco, and therefore in cigarettes. In small amounts, nicotine is a stimulant, although in larger quantities it’s considered a poison and is even used in many insecticides. The earliest French root of the word was nicotiane, which comes from the Modern Latin botanical term for the tobacco plant, Nicotiana, named for Jean Nicot, the French ambassador who first brought tobacco from Brazil to France in 1561.Chauvinism means the belief that your country is superior to all others. Continue reading “Some Interesting Eponyms!”

Harry, Jaunty, Laze, Patois and Echelon


J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter is a very popular character and I didn’t know if Harry meant anything. It has been my hobby to ask meaning of names and it made some people uncomfortable at times because they didn’t really have any clue about theirs. I feel there are Hindi words Hairanee which means wonder and is used with Pareshaani which means trouble. Hairat is another word for surprise–I feel these words might be related to Harry.  Continue reading “Harry, Jaunty, Laze, Patois and Echelon”

The bottom line is sleeper in a stable!

Bottom Line

I’ve heard this phrase so often in conversation, perhaps used it myself, to know how it originated is interesting.

Originally, the bottom line of an audit said whether you were making money, losing money, or breaking even. It was the most important part. From there, this became a figure of speech for the most important part of anything. If someone is talking a long time explaining something, you might ask “What’s the bottom line?” That’s asking them to get to the point. The bottom line of a speech is the main argument or central idea. Bottom lines are important.

Continue reading “The bottom line is sleeper in a stable!”

Jodhpurs, Hokey and Wadi

spelled Jodhpur is the name of a city in Indian state of Rajasthan

Jodhpurs were originally loose and baggy around the hips and thighs, inspired by the Indian trousers called the churidar, or churidar pyjamas. Stretchy modern fabrics have resulted in tighter-fitting jodhpurs, often reinforced inside the knee and thigh. These pants are named after the Rajasthani Indian city of Jodhpur.

Note: Churidar are a type of Indian trousers but the word Churi/Chudi/Choodee is actually used for circular bangles of glass worn on wrists by ladies here–so maybe it stands for anything in that shape–dar suffix merely means ‘of that type or shape.’  Continue reading “Jodhpurs, Hokey and Wadi”

Palanquin and Chador

Etymology interests me and  is a wonderful site to which I subscribed to play vocabulary games some years ago. I receive emails regularly from them but seldom visit the site these days. Today I visited and played for a while and found two interesting terms. There are many words which we’ve been using since childhood in our day-to-day conversations, in dramas, movies and TV in Hindi which resemble some of the English words in sound and there was a time when I wasn’t aware of their etymologies so I didn’t know if they came to Hindi from English or it was the other way around. Now such words make for an interesting study. Take Bazaar for example-it has been used extensively colloquially and when I first read it in an English text I thought it was taken directly from Hindi. Similarly curry is the name of a dish made with yellowish gram flour( though pronounced cadhee here!) A long ago I started a feature here called Wordy Friday Nerdy in which I used to discuss some etymologies, words and ideas but discontinued it. Now if I continue to visit vocabulary site I would keep sharing some interesting finds. Continue reading “Palanquin and Chador”