Loving The Phantoms!

Zaza: The word ‘Vyasan’ in Hindi primarily means ‘addictions.’ But the actual word in Sanskrit also meant ‘tragedy,’ and one of the verses taught in middle school says that one’s kin are recognized only when tragedy visits them. It’s interesting how the meaning morphed as word entered into Hindi from Sanskrit. Addictions eventually ruin people and their lives become tragedies. 

Logos: The word guy which primarily means a dude or man is also informally used by people for a group of people including men and women. But unless you peruse a dictionary you rarely come across its secondary meanings. One meaning is a cable or wire used to brace a tent–this is also used as a verb. Another meaning which is even rarer in use is a verb which means to subject someone to ridicule or laughter. I think it’s the primary meaning which is seen in social media, films and magazines mostly.  Continue reading “Loving The Phantoms!”



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. 


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”

Fatigued Defrock

Defrock comes from frock, an old word for “dress.” Priests, nuns, monks, and other church officials wear a frock to symbolize their job. If they leave the church, they are said to be defrocked: their gown is taken away.

Although it is still common to refer to defrocked priests (priests who have left the priesthood for one reason or another), the word does not have a generally-used meaning outside of the clergy. You would not refer to a “defrocked teacher” or a “defrocked coach.”


You might have seen police officers proudly swearing on their ‘wardi’ in Hindi movies–this word created a related funny image primarily because I never thought that clergy dress was called ‘frock.’ I had the dress for young kids and toys(dolls) called ‘frock’ in my mind. Funny how different it’s from ‘firing’ which has a sense of burning something–maybe a chair on which a person was previously sitting and here you take the frock away. Continue reading “Fatigued Defrock”


Kids who fall and skin their knees know what a scab is: it’s the crusty patch of skin that forms when a scrape or cut is healing.

A wound will form a scab as it heals, whether it’s a cut or a burn. Skin has an amazing ability to repair itself, and a scab is evidence of this. Another kind of scab altogether is a slang term for someone who crosses a picket line during a strike, choosing to work instead of joining coworkers in protesting low wages or harsh treatment by an employer. This kind of scab first meant “unpleasant person” in the late 1500’s.


When it’s a natural scab it’s a pleasant sign-it relieves us because nature’s healing is helping us recover fast from the injury. I used to see scabs frequently when I was young and used to  play outdoors a lot but as I grew up they became lesser and lesser in frequency-and maybe some psychic equivalent of scab took their place.

Sight of human scab is an unpleasant one because he’s a traitor. Strikebreaker is another name for such a person–this person joins the authorities or employers and deserts his fellow workers. Comparing these two shades of the meaning of this word amused me -one saves you from suffering and pain and other gives you pain(saves the other party from pain!) If strikebreaker is used for the natural layer on skin it kind of suits it well too-since it breaks the harmful strike of fate in a way. How the meaning of this word took second shade remains an interesting mystery.


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 vocabulary.com

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 Vocabulary.com

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!”