Ancient Word of the Day: Maturun / Binturong

Binturongs, also known in English as bearcats, are long, stocky and heavy tree-dwellers with large bushy tails which they use to communicate. Strangely they have an odd but pleasant scent which people who smell them seem to enjoy – like buttered popcorn. Like all animals large and small they are endangered by palm oil expansionContinue reading “Ancient Word of the Day: Maturun / Binturong”

Ancient word of the day: Athene Noctua or Athena’s Owl

The Greek goddess Athena had as her sacred animal familiar the owl, also known as the Athene Noctua in Latin. The Romans, fond as they were of stealing from the Greek pantheon, renamed Athena to Minerva. Athena and her owl are considered to be symbols of wisdom, in both cultures. Athene Noctua Athena’s owl orContinue reading “Ancient word of the day: Athene Noctua or Athena’s Owl”

Ancient Word of the Day: Komorebi

This Japanese word has no direct translation to English but means ‘the sunlight filtering through the leaves of the trees’. It is made up of three Kanji characters: 木 means tree 漏 means ‘to leak’ or ‘to escape’ 日 means sun Komorebi 木漏日 ~ from Japanese. ‘Sunlight filtering through the leaves of trees The wordContinue reading “Ancient Word of the Day: Komorebi”

Ancient Word of the Day: Ubuntu

A beautiful and ancient word that denotes the deep collective power of empathy and humanity. Ubuntu is a Xhosa word that denotes sharing what you have. As in, my humanity is inextricably linked and bound up in yours. Ubuntu recognises that true healing is impossible without recognition of our common humanity and common destiny. ‘TheContinue reading “Ancient Word of the Day: Ubuntu”

Ancient Word of the Day: Sansai

Sansai. n. ‘mountain vegetables’ from Japanese. Sansai grow wild in marshlands, and grasslands, or in the forest. Japanese people have been gathering wild food to cook with since ancient times. In fact, wild plants or Sansai have helped Japanese when food has been scarce because of drought or some other natural disaster. When food wasContinue reading “Ancient Word of the Day: Sansai”

Ancient Word of the Day: Snu

The smell sensing organ in animals is often described as a Snout and when someone is annoyed with you, you may get snubbed by them. Humans since prehistoric times have been sniffing, snuffling, snorting and sneezing and when we are blocked up, we have a lot of snot. Philosopher’s lamp, 1936 Rene Magritte These nasalContinue reading “Ancient Word of the Day: Snu”

Ancient Word of the Day: Orangutan

Orangutan: n. Orang ‘forest’ hutan ‘person’ or forest person in Malay Orangutans belong to the great ape family, our closest biological relatives. This familial link is reflected in the word orangutan itself, which Malay speakers today can still recognise as deriving from the phrase orang hutan, which means “forest person”. This term goes back over aContinue reading “Ancient Word of the Day: Orangutan”

Ancient Words of the Day: Week Days

Why are there seven days in a week? A week is a cycle of seven numbered or named days most likely due to the Jewish calendar. However things get complicated as early medieval Europe inherited the idea of the week from imperial Rome, via Christianity. Name days are similar across all European languages: English, German,Continue reading “Ancient Words of the Day: Week Days”

Ancient Word of the Day: Gibbon / Kebong

The word gibbon entered European languages through French in the 18th century. The French adopted it from the Malay word, kebon. However etymological research shows this Malay word originally came from a group of languages called Northern Aslian, spoken by indigenous communities in peninsular Malaysia. In Northern Aslian, it was probably pronounced kebong. Gibbons are a type of apeContinue reading “Ancient Word of the Day: Gibbon / Kebong”

Ancient Word of the Day: Lavender

If you think that humble fragrance of lavender is only loved by aromatherapists and older ladies with a penchant for scented drawer sachets – think again. Lavender was officially the scent of elicit medieval sex, according to History of Sex author Kate Lister! Unlike exotic and expensive perfumes, lavender grows wild and plentifully all overContinue reading “Ancient Word of the Day: Lavender”