Ancient Word of the Day: Cuneiform

Ancient Word of the Day: Cuneiform

Cuneiform: n. The oldest known writing system that originated in Mesopotamia circa 3400BC. It was etched onto wet clay tablets using a wedge-shaped stylus. Cuneiform is the original ancient written language that underpins all modern forms of written communication. Many languages throughout a vast geographical span over thousands of years were written in cuneiform, including…

Travel: Eileann Donan Castle, Kyle of Lochalsh, Scotland. Copyright Content Catnip 2010

Ancient Word of the Day: Hooly

Hooly or Huly: Adv. 'To proceed gently or softly, with steadiness or caution.' Scottish/Irish The word Hooly first appeared in English in the 14th Century. It was found in the Scottish expression Hooly and Fairly, meaning 'to proceed slowly, carefully and cautiously.' Over time, the word came to have negative connotations and hooliness or hulinesss…

Olivia Laing, The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone

Ancient Word of the Day: Lacuna

Lacuna \ lə-​ˈkü-​nər a little lake. Or a pause, gap or break in a text, painting or musical work. Latin lacūna: “little lake”. Word of the day: “lacuna”- in a manuscript, an inscription, or the text of an author: a hiatus, blank, missing portion (OED n.1) A word borrowed from Latin in the 17th Century…

Thule as Tile on the Carta Marina of 1539 by Olaus Magnus, where it is shown located to the northwest of the Orkney islands, with a "monster, seen in 1537", a whale ("balena"), and an orca nearby.

Ancient Word of the Day: Thule

Thule or Tile is a legendary island in the North Europe, which was first written about by Ancient Greek Explorer Pytheas of Massalia during his travels between 330-20 BC. Later, a Roman citizen named Strabo wrote about Thule in his treatise named Geographica c. 30 AD. Thule - is the great unknown. The land of…

Ancient Word of the Day: Anglii

Ancient Words of the Day: Anglii/Angle/Ankle

One of the oldest English words recorded is Anglii used first in the year 98 AD by Roman historian Gaius Cornelius Tacitus (ca. 56-120 AD) Anglii i.e "the Angles," literally "people of Angul" (Old Norse Öngull). Tacitus wrote in 98AD in his book 'Germania' about the various Teutonic tribes he came into contact with including…

Every Picture Tells A Story: The Horoscope of Prince Iskandar (1411)

Ancient Word of the Day: Nadir

Nadir ˈnā-ˌdir (from Arabic) The lowest or worst point. The sunken place of great depression or degradation. Astronomically, it is the point to opposite to the zenith. Merlin by Ralph Waldo Emerson He shall not seek to weave,In weak unhappy times,Efficacious rhymes;Wait his returning strength,Bird, that from the nadir's floor,To the zenith's top could soar,The…

Ancient Word of the Day: Vellichor

Ancient Word of the Day: Vellichor

Noun: Vellichor from the Latin Vell (paper) and ichor (essence). An ethereal perfume that is extruded from the earth and infuses old book stores with mystery, wistfulness and nostalgia. Books are worlds unto themselves that reveal tiny and huge universes all co-existing side-by-side. The aroma of books is the smell of the passage of time.…

People make things to express their need (or fear) of connection | Olivia Laing, The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone

Hauntingly relevant ancient Mesoptamian Proverbs about love and friendship

A mere friend will agree with you, but a real friend will argue. ~ Assyrian Proverb "The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart." - Helen Keller with Charlie Chaplin Tell me your friends, and I’ll tell you who you are.…

I Collect Images of Paintings Like Others Collect Treasures

Ancient word of the day: Cirrocumulus

Origin: 1650s. Cumulus " a heap, pile, mass, surplus " in Latin *keue "to swell" in Latin. Cirrocumulus are flocks of fleecy clouds that whisk past us on a glorious spring day. Often their appearance in the evening foretells of a stormy morning the following day. At least thats old shepherd’s wisdom. German Schäfchenwolken: Little…

Les Oréades (1902) by William-Adolphe Bouguereau, in Musée d'Orsay

Ancient word of the day: Nymph

In Greek mythology, the nymphs were tiny and minor goddesses that each presided over a type of landscape feature. Normally something glimmering, glittering and bewitching in nature like waterfalls, streams, mountains, lakes or trees. The name nymphe means bride in Greek and so the tiny and bewitching nymphs represented the brides or maidens of the…

Ancient Word of the Day: Philoxenia

Ancient Word of the Day: Philoxenia

Philoxenia comes from Ancient Greek. This literally translates to be "friends with a stranger". Philo - Friend, Xenia - Stranger. In Ancient Greece, hospitality was ranked highly as a personal virtue. Great honour was bestowed upon a guest by a host. If a stranger was to appear on your doorstep in Ancient Greece, you were…

Arachne (1884) by Otto Henry Bacher. Source: Met Museum

Ancient word of the day: Arachnid

According to ancient Greek myth, the first spider to ever live was a once human girl named Arachne. She lived in the ancient city of Lydia in Turkey and was famous for her ability to weave beautiful clothing. Arachne gained fame for her weaving and became boastful of her ability, telling people that her weaving…

An Arcadian Idyll by Georges Auguste Elie Laverne (1863-1942). An arcadian idyll with Pan playing pipes and nymphs reclining. The triptych was found on wooden panelling in an apartment in Paris built in 1895.

Ancient words of the day: Arcadian Idyll

Arcadian Idyll: an idealised vision about rural life, a country paradise. Arcadia was and still is, a mountainous region in Greece. It was populated mainly by shepherds and the sleepy and fluffy flocks of sheep. In reality, rural life in Arcadia was harsh, poor and beholden to the ravages of unpredictable weather.    Arcadian Idyll…

Reflexion by Odilon Redon

This being human is a guest house

This being human is a guest house.Every morning a new arrival. A joy, a depression, a meanness,some momentary awareness comesas an unexpected visitor. Welcome and entertain them all!Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,who violently sweep your houseempty of its furniture,still, treat each guest honorably.He may be clearing you outfor some new delight. The dark…

Olaus Magnus’s Carta marina of 1539

Ancient word of the day: Kraken

A Kraken is a mythical behemoth. A man-eating and fearsome gigantic cephalopod that drove fear into the hearts of sea-going Scandanavians. The word kraken comes from the Swedish word “krake”, which means twisted. Seen traditionally as a beast to be feared and respected, it also embodied a sense of deep oceanic magic and mystery. Kraken…

Celestial ceilings and soaring skies in Poland

The quirky meander through the origins of language in the Polish calendar

With a few exceptions that are Latin, the Polish month names of the year take more from the Pagan world of seasonal changes, rather than from the Latin calendar that we all know and use in English. What's even more interesting is that even though Poland is historically a Catholic country, they chose to distance…

Cosmic Cuttlefish by Sylvia Ritter

Ancient words of the day: Glamour and grammar

Glamour is an 18th Century corruption of the word grammar. Or the occult processes that were traditionally associated with learning during the middle ages. The words grammar and glamour are also associated with the word grimoire - a spell-book. Glamourie: witchcraft, magic, fascination or a spell Glaumerify: to cast a spell over or bewich Glamour-bead:…

Got enough books? What a stupid question!

Ancient word of the day: Tsundoku

The Japanese word, “Tsundoku", which literally means "reading pile", dates back all the way to the Meiji era (1868-1912). It's a unique word for which there is no English equivalent. If you're an avid reader though, you will well understand that feeling...it's pure happiness, the feeling of knowing that you have many more books ready…

Ryoan-Ji zen garden in Arashiyama, Kyoto. Content Catnip 2018 www.contentcatnip.com

Jisei: Haunting Japanese death poems from history

Japan has a long history of jisei, or death poems. Jisei is the “farewell poem to life.” These poems were written by literate people, often monks, royalty or courtiers just before their death.  A Jisei from Prince Otsu in 686 BC is one of the earliest recorded death poems. Not all death poems are written…

Ancient Word of the Day: Whelm

Ancient Word of the Day: Whelm

Whelm originates from Old English and it means to overturn or capsize a hollow vessel (a boat, a heart); to bury by wave, flood, storm, avalanche. The etymology is from the Old English hwelfan, to 'upheave'. This explains the modern use of "overwhelmed" and "underwhelmed". No voice divine the storm allay'd, No light propitious shone;…

Ancient word of the day: Dægeseage

Ancient word of the day: Dægeseage

The ancient word of the day is Dægeseage. This is an old English word for daisy. The origin of Dægeseage is literally daisy or day's eye. Which makes sense when you think about the quaint little flower and its tendency to follow the arc of the sun through the sky from dawn to dusk, soaking in as much light and goodness as possible.