Ancient Word of the Day: Love-Drury

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Love-Drury: n. A treasured token or keepsake given to a lover or partner. Origin: French. Comes from the French word Drut meaning a friend or lover. Drury made its way to English in the Middle Ages. In the 14th Century, a drury was a sweetheart or beloved person or a treasured object. Vincent Van Gogh's…

Ancient Word of the Day: Darth Vader

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Fans speculate that the name Darth Vader means ‘Dark Father’ are in for a rude awakening. The real meaning of Darth Vader is actually way cooler than that. George Lucas, the creator of the Star Wars franchise has (according to online sources) explained that the name Darth Vader comes from ‘Darth’ (Dark Lord of the…

Ancient Word of the Day: Serendipitist

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Serendipitist: n. A person who benefits from a chance or serendipitous event Serendipity: happenchance or providence. This beautiful term was originally coined by writer Horace Walpole in 1754. Walpole was inspired by the ancient Persian tale The Three Princes of Serendip, about some titular characters who ran around in ancient Persia having some marvellous luck…

Ancient Word of the Day: Stravaig

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Stravaig: v. to wander or amble without a purpose or destination in mind. Glad of the opportunity to explore and discover on foot, being unconstrained by time. (from Scots Gaelic) Travel: Hiking in Ireland Copyright Content Catnip 2010 Stravaig derives from eighteenth-century Scots extravage, meaning ‘wander about; digress, ramble in speech’, in turn derived from Medieval Latin extravagari ‘wander,…

Ancient Word of the Day: Sussurate

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Sussurate: n: to whisper or murmur. The noise produced by a hive of bees, a rustling of leaves in the forest or the crackling of a fire It turns out that elemental experiences for ancient humans echo and whisper back over aeons and are universally received and recognised. No matter where we are on this…

Ancient Word of the Day: Weltschmerz

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Weltschmerz: n: (literally) World Pain (from German). The feeling of sadness at the suffering that surrounds you in the world. The pain of being an empath and sensitive to all despair and distress in the world. An ill-defined weariness at the burdens carried universally by all of humankind. The Sensual World of The Unseen By…

Ancient Word of the Day: Deliquium

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Latin v. delinquere: "to lack, to fail In 1836, Francis Baily travelled to the Scottish Borders to see a solar eclipse. He witnessed a macabre and beautiful phenomenon. A row of lucid points, like a string of bright beads of irregular distance and size from each other. These suddenly appeared around the circumference of the…

Ancient Word of the Day: Uiscebeatha

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Uisgebeatha: n Irish Gaelic uisce "water", and bethu "life" or Water of Life. Another variation is the Scots Gaelic Uisge beatha. Pronounced Ish-ka ba-ha. This was a Gaelic name given by Irish and Scottish monks in the early Middle Ages to describe distilled alcohol. It's a translation of the Latin aqua vitae 'water of life'.…

Ancient Word of the Day: Hell Kettle

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Hell Kettle: n. A deep abyss or bottomless pool The deep pools in Darlington, Co. Durham in England are a part of fearsome local legend. These mysterious pools are said to have inspired Lewis Carroll's endless rabbithole, where Alice tumbles into another world - in his classic book Alice in Wonderland. They are known as…

Ancient Word of the Day: Cuneiform

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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…

Ancient Word of the Day: Hooly

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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…

Ancient Word of the Day: Lacuna

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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…

Ancient Word of the Day: Thule

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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 Words of the Day: Anglii/Angle/Ankle

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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…

Ancient Word of the Day: Nadir

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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

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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.…

Hauntingly relevant ancient Mesoptamian Proverbs about love and friendship

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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.…

Ancient word of the day: Apricity

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Apricity was a term originally coined by English lexicographer Henry Cockeram to denote the "the warmeness of the Sunne in Winter". This photo I took during a particularly chilling end of autumn day in Japan in Ginkaku-ji Temple, Kyoto. Note how the sun falls in cascades of enveloping warmth onto the golden tinged leaves. Apricity…

Ancient word of the day: Algorithm

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The ancient Muslim empire in the city of Baghdad was the birthplace of the word (and the concept of the) algorithm. In the year 820 AD, a Persian genius named Muhammed ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi created the concept of the algorithm and algebra in an ancient book called Kitab al-Jebr. The book Kitab al-Jebr (later latinised…

Ancient word of the day: Cirrocumulus

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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…

Ancient word of the day: Nymph

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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

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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…

Ancient word of the day: Arachnid

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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…

Ancient words of the day: Arcadian Idyll

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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…

Ancient word of the day: Kraken

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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…