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Morgan Dynamic Phonics: Word or Phrase Origin of the Week, 2004-2006

December 2006. abracadabra - Latin - first used as a charm in the 2nd century. Romans wrote the word in the shape of a triangle and wore it hanging from their necks as a way of warding off the 'evil eye.' They believed that the word had the power to cure toothaches and other illnesses.

December 2006. apple of one's eye This is the pupil. It was once called an apple because it was believed to be a solid globular body. Because injury to the pupil would cause blindness, the expression came to mean 'that which is held dearest.'

December 2006. blarney - from the village of Blarney - it was believed that the Blarney Stone in that village could give someone who kissed it, the 'power of lying with a straight face.'

December 2006. bootlegger - illegal sale of liquor to Indians on reservations was at one time done by concealing the liquor in the high boots of the bootlegger. Moonshine supposedly comes from the idea that illegal liquor is best made on a moonless night - less chance of getting caught.

December 2006. boss - Dutch - the early American settlers did not like the word "master," so they adopted the Dutch synonym for it, boss.

December 2006. bottle - from Latin meaning 'thick skin,' since the first bottles were made of animal skin.

November 2006. bug - from an Old Welsh word meaning 'specter' or 'ghost.' It later became another word for "beetle," some of which resemble a frightful specter.

November 2006. calculate - from a Latin word meaning 'pebble.' Two thousand years ago, merchants used pebbles as counters while doing business. Taxis contained a revolving can that dropped pebbles used to calculate the fair. Related word is calculus.

November 2006. cavalier - from Old French meaning 'horse' - from the way wealthy people, or knights, looked down on the commoners from their magnificent horses. We got the word chivalry, because knights in the Middle Ages had taken oaths of bravery and honor, vowing to be gallant and courteous at all times. Other related words are cavalry and cavalcade.

November 2006. chauffeur - French - 'heater' - referred to 'a nasty breed of bandits,' who broke into houses and then held the occupants "feet in the fire" until they revealed where they kept their valuables. Later, it referred to 'stokers of steam engines' and then to 'driver of a car.'

November 2006. chipper - When a bird feels good it chippers - and a happy person does the same.

October 2006. comedy - among the ancients Greeks, this was a type of drunken revelry where the utmost license prevailed. Women were not allowed. Later, it was replaced with well-written plays that were amusing, light-hearted, and a lot more conservative.

October 2006. debauch - from a French word meaning 'to lure from one's place of work for conversation and/or drinking.'

October 2006. defend - Latin - originally meant 'to protect by prohibiting' - referring to the 'fence' used to defend buildings, towns, or boarders.

October 2006. demon - was the Greek word for 'divine power, fate, guiding spirit, minor deity, and finally evil spirit.' The change in meaning was the result of Christianity, which forbade the worshipping of pagan deities.

October 2006. deuce - the lowest number to be thrown in dice and the lowest card in a deck of cards. It has had the meanings: 'plague,' 'mischief,' 'bad luck,' and 'Devil.' This was probably a euphemism for an exclamation of "Devil"- upon throwing the lowest number in dice.

September 2006. diplomat - Latin - meaning 'folded twice.' A diplomat deals in matters so secret that his or her documents require special handling.

September 2006. dog days of summer This phrase has an astronomical source. The Dog Star, Sirius, rises in conjunction with the sun in the period. The ancients believed that the combined heat of Sirius and the sun, when in conjunction, brought about the very hot weather.

September 2006. echo - Greek - Hera, the wife of Zeus, tried to follow Zeus to keep him from fooling around with the group nymphs (mythical nature spirits) that he liked. Zeus arranged for the nymph Echo, to keep Hera busy with chatter, so that he would not be followed and found out. Hera learned about this and condemned Echo to wander the earth unable to speak but only to repeat what others said. Echo met and fell in love with Narcissus but her love was not returned. In her pining for Narcissus (who could only love himself), she gradually faded away until nothing was left but her voice.

September 2006. elixir - Arabic meaning 'the philosophers stone.' The old alchemists believed that the elixir that they were looking for could turn metal into gold and might have the property of prolonging life. Compare menstruum below.

September 2006. euphemism - Greek - originally denoting 'abstinence from words of ill omen at religious ceremonies.'

August 2006. extravagant - Latin - 'one who wanders outside his usual path,' or 'beyond his usual manner of behavior.' Related words are vagrant (one who wanders) and erratic (having no fixed path, wandering).

August 2006. glamour - comes from a Greek word and in the Middle Ages had the meaning of 'learning' in general and then 'magic,' or 'a spell or charm.' The word comes from the word grammar, which signifies 'reading' and 'writing.' Since only the few elite learned how to read and write in the Middle Ages, the common people viewed this special knowledge as 'mysterious, with devilish powers,' and associated it with 'black magic.' The learned were thought to be able to 'cast spells and charms' through their knowledge of grammar.

August 2006. heeby-jeebies - derives from an American Indian term for the 'dance of the witch doctor.'

August 2006. high brow - it was once believed that bumps and ridges on the head indicated strengths and abilities. Having a high eyebrow line was supposed to indicate great intellectual capacity.

August 2006. ignoramus - Latin - in the early 17th century this word referred to 'an ignorant and arrogant attorney.'

July 2006. in the red, out of the red debits were written in red ink in accounting books.

July 2006. jersey - Jersey was a corruption of 'Caesar,' (from when the Romans ruled it) and is an island in the English Channel. Sheep on this island produce wool that is woven into 'jersey' cloth, and then is knitted into sweaters we call "jerseys."

July 2006. limey - from the nickname for a British sailor as an abbreviation of lime-juicer - sailors were required to drink lime juice to prevent scurvy at sea. The word now applies to all Englishmen.

July 2006. mad as a hatter Mercury was at one time used to make felt hats. Long time workers with this chemical would be beset by violent and uncomfortable twitching of the muscles as a result. To others, they seemed to be crazy.

July 2006. necking - from the neck being an object of affection and perhaps the lowest level of action allowed.

June 2006. nemesis - Greek goddess, Nemesis, was the goddess of retribution. She punished crimes with her sword and her swift avenging wings. She measured out happiness and unhappiness, and saw to it that nobody had too much of one without the other.

June 2006. nifty - Latin - a slang word meaning 'very good.' It is believed to have come from the middle portion of 'magnificent.'

June 2006. pamper - Latin - originally meaning 'to stuff with food.'

June 2006. patrol - Old French - originally meaning 'to slosh through the mud.' It was probably coined by soldiers ordered to guard a camp at night, because they often seemed to be doing nothing but walking back and forth in the mud.

June 2006. phony - An American manufacturer of cheap jewelry was named Forney. He made brass rings, which looked like they were made of gold. The rings soon became known as 'Forney rings.' In time, the pronunciation was changed to 'phoney or 'phony' and was applied to anything that was fraudulent.

May 2006. plausible - Latin - it once meant 'that which obtained applause,' with the assumption that it deserved the applause.

May 2006. polka dot - When the polka dance craze came to the United States in the 1880's, certain cloths and designs were named after the dance. A knitted jacket with a dot-pattern on it was used when dancing the polka, and was called a "polka."

May 2006. poodle - comes from a Low German word meaning 'to splash in water,' because the dog was once used to retriever waterfowl.

May 2006. precipice - Latin - from a word meaning 'headforemost,' or 'to cast down or fall headlong,' as if from a high place. Many Roman criminals were executed by being thrown from Tarpeian Rock in Rome. Many suicides occurred there also.

May 2006. promoter - Latin - at one time a promoter was 'an informer,' so called because he 'promoted' accusations and charges against men.

April 2006. pup tent - these small tents were used by the Union soldiers during the Civil War. The tents were so small and looked like dog kennels, so the soldiers named them 'dog tents,' and would stick there heads out of them and bark. The term later changed to pup tents.

April 2006. quack - during the great plague in the middle ages, bogus healers preyed on the people by selling them fake medicines. Their noisy sales talks reminded the Dutch of ducks, so in Holland they became known as quacks.

April 2006. quibble - Latin - originally meant 'who' or 'which.' This term was used so much in legal documents and fought over so much by lawyers in court that it gave us the term quibble.

April 2006. rogue - Latin - originally simply 'a wandering beggar.' Dishonesty was later superimposed on it.

April 2006. round robin This was originally the name for a petition among British sailors during the 17th and 18th century. When presenting a grievance to the captain, the sailors would sign their names as if they were spokes radiating from a hub. In this way, the captain could not tell who originated the complaint.

March 2006. scruple - Latin - meant 'sharp stone.' The notion of something troubling the mind is like a painful stone in the shoe. The word scrupulous originally meant referred to a road 'full of tiny sharp stones.'

March 2006. shyster - a word coined by Mike Walsh in 1843 to describe various unlicensed and unprincipled men who pretended to be lawyers in New York City courts. The word was derived from a German word meaning 'excrement.'

March 2006. sirloin - Latin - meaning 'above the loin,' referring to the cut of meat above the loin.

March 2006. surly - Middle English - meaning 'arrogant,' - related to the words sir and sire, and originally referred to 'someone who acted like a knight.'

March 2006. tally - Anglo-Norman - 'rod of wood marked with notches to record payments.' (15th century) The officials who kept the sticks were called telliers, now tellers. In 1834, the English authorities resolved to get rid of this cumbersome system. Centuries of accumulated sticks (tallies) were burned in the furnace of the House of Lords. The excessive amount of fuel in the furnace set the buildings afire and both Houses of Parliament burned to the ground.

February 2006. test - Latin - referred to a porous earthenware pot used to extract precious metals from ores containing less precious metals like lead.

February 2006. three sheets to the wind This is a phrase from navigation. On a sailing ship, the 'sheets' where the ropes or chains attached to the lower corner of the sails to control the sail's angle. When the sails were out of control, as in a strong wind, the sheets were said to be "to the wind." When all three "sheets" were "to the wind," or out of control, the three main sails of the ship were out of control, and the ship would wobble and stagger not unlike a man who has had too much to drink.

February 2006. thug - originally a professional gang of thieves and murderers in India who got their name from a Hindustani word meaning 'cheat' or 'swindler.' The Thugs believed that they were divinely chosen to strangle selected victims in honor of the goddess Kali, wife of Siva. They believed that this was a religious duty.

February 2006. to dislike (or like) the cut of one's jib A jib was the triangular sail in the front of a ship that identified the nationality of the ship - whether the ship would be friendly or hostile.

February 2006. to lay an egg This phrase originally referred to sports, with an egg symbolizing a score of zero.

January 2006. to run amuck The Malayan word "amoq" means 'frenzied,' or by extension, 'furiously engaged in battle.' When a Malayan became so crazed and became a danger to others, a cry of "amoq! amoq!" went out among the people as a warning. This is where our phrase "to run amuck" comes from, although it usually has milder connotations than the original Malayan word.

January 2006. ukulele - Hawaiian - meaning 'jumping insect,' since the fingers jump back and forth very quickly when it is played.

January 2006. vamp - as used for 'an unscrupulous seductive woman,' is simply a shortening of 'vampire.'

January 2006. wake - Middle English - 'to be awake.' Drinking ale or whiskey from lead cups often knocked a person out for a couple of days. After someone died, they were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days, and the family would eat and drink at the table and wait for the person to wake up.

January 2006. white elephant - When an eastern ruler wanted to destroy a court attendant he would present him with the court's sacred white elephant. This sacred animal cost a lot to take care of and could not be put to work since he was sacred. This ultimately meant the financial demise of the recipient.

December 2005. bleachers - Middle English - originated from the comparison of sitting in an open air stadium, where one is exposed to the sun, to clothes and linens being bleached when hanging on a clothesline in the sun (a bit of wit here).

December 2005. Jewish names - In the early 19th century, Jews were emancipated in Prussia, Bavaria, and the Russian Empire. Jews were forced to adopt new family names when freed. Those names were subject to the approval of government officials who could be bribed. Those who could not afford to bribe the officials were given names such as: Schmalz (grease), Borgenicht (do not borrow), Ochsenschwantz (oxtail), Galgenstrick (gallows rope), and Eselkopf (donkey's head). Those who could afford to bribe official got names, for example, derived from gems, such as Diament, Edelstein, and Saphir, and from flowers, such as Blumenthal, Rosenthal, and Lilienthal.

December 2005. juggernaut - from Sanskrit - originally meant 'a cart,' then 'a very heavy vehicle' and finally to 'any relentless, crushing object or force.' It derives from the Sanskrit word for 'Krishna.' During an annual procession in East India, it is said that some devotees allow themselves to be crushed under the wheels of the huge Krishna cart as a sacrifice to him.

December 2005. breast and leg - these words were never used in the 1880's and 1890's - they were considered too risqué. During the 17th and 18th centuries English speakers euphemized the language by changing 'breast' to 'boson,' 'titbit' to 'tidbit,' 'cock' to 'rooster,' 'belly button' to 'tummy button,' and 'underwear' to 'unmentionable' or 'small clothes.'

December 2005. bow - Indo-European root meaning 'to bend.' Bow of 'bow and arrow,' and bow that 'acknowledges applause' (which is a bend of the body) both come from this root.

November 2005. hell bent - from American slang meaning 'so determined to do something as to be unconcerned about the consequences, even of hell itself.'

November 2005. bolt from the blue, a - This phrase is used to describe something unexpected or surprising, and means 'like a bolt of lightening coming from a clear, blue sky.'

November 2005. swan song - In ancient times it was believed that a swan, unable to sing like other birds, was able to sing a glorious song just before its death. Socrates explained that it was a song of joy because the swan was sacred to Apollo and would soon join him in death. Apollo was the god of poetry and song, and so the expression refers to the last great piece of art work of any artist before he dies (supposedly the piece of work that defines his artistry, his finest work).

November 2005. hair of the dog that bit you, a - It was once believed that if one was bitten by a 'mad dog,' (one who had rabies) that the chances of recovery were improved if one could get a hair from the dog and bind it to the wound.

November 2005. keep one's fingers crossed, to - This is from the belief that the sign of the cross would ward off evil and bring good luck. The American tradition of crossing one's fingers behind the back when telling a lie probably comes from the idea of keeping the devil (or an angry parent) at bay, even when being dishonest.

November 2005. to take the cake - A couple of centuries ago, "cake" meant an award or honor of some kind. So, one who received the award, "took the cake". The "cakewalk" got its name from this expression.

October 2005. jack-o'-lantern - Irish folklore. Jack was a stingy and mean-hearted drunk who liked to play tricks on people. One day he tricked the Devil into going up a tree and then put crosses around the trunk so he could not get down. He made the Devil agree not to take his soul when he died. When Jack died, St. Peter would not let him into heaven so he was left to wander around forever in the darkness between heaven and hell. Jack asked the Devil how he could live without light, and the Devil tossed Jack a hot coal. Jack put it in a hollowed out turnip to use as a lantern. Irish villagers once used hollowed out vegetables with candles in them as lanterns. The Irish believed that on All Hallow's Eve (our Halloween), the spirits of the dead leave their graves a try to go back to familiar homes. On this evening, the Irish hollowed out turnips and other vegetables and placed candles in them to ward off evil spirits and to keep Jack away. They dressed up in scary costumes to frighten spirits away, and left food and other treats for them, so they would not destroy peoples' homes or crops. This brings new meaning to the phrase, "trick or treat".

October 2005. Halloween - dates back to 5th century B. C., Ireland. Called "All Hallows Eve", and celebrated by the Celts from 5th century B. C. The Celts believed that on October 31st all people who had died in the past year would come out to find a person or an animal to inhabit for the following year, before they could go peacefully into the afterlife. To scare away the spirits, people extinguished the fires in their homes and dressed up as demons, hobgoblins and witches. They paraded around inside and outside their houses being as noisy and destructive as possible. Finally, they assembled at a bonfire outside of town at which a Druid priest lit the fire to honor the sun god for the harvest and frighten away the wayward spirits. A villager who by mannerisms or appearance seemed to already be possessed of a foreign spirit would often be sacrificed in the fire in order to scare off other spirits. The Romans adopted the Celtic Halloween practices, but in 61 A.D. outlawed human sacrifice, substituting the burning of effigies. In time, as the belief in spirit possession diminished, Halloween became just lighthearted ritualized amusement. The Irish immigrants who came to the States in the 1840's brought the custom with them.

October 2005. go haywire - This phrase originally referred to the wire used by farmers to bind and bale hay. This would often become twisted and, when cut, would fly around in an unpredictable and dangerous manner. Another explanation is that some farmers would reuse the haywire that was used to bail hay for fixing machines, tools, fences, etc. instead of using the right materials for the repairs. Such shoddy repairs on a farm, with tangled rusting haywire strewn about, were said to make the place look like it had "gone haywire".

October 2005. baker's dozen - Making sure that bakers did not cheat customers by making bread that had lots of air pockets in it and therefore less substance has been a problem for many centuries. In 1266, England passed a law for regulating the price of bread by weight. The penalties for short weight loaves were harsh. Because bakers did not want to risk penalty, they added a thirteenth loaf when selling a dozen loaves to a vendor. The vendor, in turn, would break off a piece of the extra loaf and add it to each loaf sold. This insured that the customer was getting a fair deal and that the baker would not be punished.

October 2005. bring home the bacon - At county fairs it was once customary for blindfolded men to try to catch a greased pig. The man who successfully caught the pig and won the contest would win the pig and 'bring home the bacon.'

September 2005. belladonna - Latin - Italian - meaning 'beautiful lady.' Ladies once used the extract from this plant to make the pupils of their eyes bigger, and so make them more beautiful.

September 2005. beside himself - In ancient times, it was believed that the soul and the body could separate and that under great stress the soul would leave the body. When this happened, the person was described as being "beside himself." The word "ecstasy" from Greek origin has the same sense and literally means, "to stand out of."

September 2005. blind alley - A gate or opening at the end of an alley used to be called the "eye," so naturally, an alley with no opening was called a "blind alley."

September 2005. blue blood - This expression for people of the aristocracy came from the Spanish idea that the veins in the skin of these people were bluer than those of other persons.

September 2005. God bless you - what we are actually saying in Old English is "God bathe you in sacrificial blood," - to ward off evil spirits. See bless. The ancients believed that the body and soul of a person could be separated. They believed that when a person sneezed, the soul would momentarily leave the body and there was a chance that the Devil could slip in and prevent the soul from returning. They believed that if a friend blessed you after a sneeze, the Devil could not invade your body and the individual soul would be able to return.

August 2005. bootlegger - illegal sale of liquor to Indians on reservations was at one time done by concealing the liquor in the high boots of the bootlegger.

August 2005. boss - in the old days bosses had the authority to beat their employees. This word comes from an Old High German word meaning 'to beat.'

August 2005. brand new - this originally referred only to metal objects. Metal, of course, has to be very hot in order to be made into something. "Brand" comes from an Old Anglo-Saxon word meaning 'to burn.'

August 2005. canter - this word in a shortening of 'Canterbury.' The pilgrims on the way to the to grave of Thomas a Becket in Canterbury, used to ride their horses at this speed.

August 2005. cold blood - it was once believed that the blood of the body varied. When the blood was hot, the person became emotional or "hot-headed", and when the blood was cold, the person was calm.

July 2005. cold feet - originally referred to a soldier whose feet were frozen or very cold and who therefore could only proceed into battle slowly or not at all.

July 2005. farce - comes from a Latin word meaning 'to stuff.' Early plays were stuffed with jokes and low comedy scenes, and so this came to be the name for this type of comedy.

July 2005. happy as a clam - This phrase was originally, "happy as a clam at high tide," which was when clams are the safest from people who wish to collect and eat them (which is done at low tide).

July 2005. hit it off - This was originally used in hunting, and meant that the hound had gotten the scent of the prey.

June 2005. auspices - Latin - in ancient Roman times political leaders consulted an 'augur' before making important decisions like on which day to start a war. These fortunetellers got their names because they would watch birds flying in order to make their predictions. If something is done under the auspices of a consultant or organization, it has that person or organizations guidance, help, and support. Inaugurate - means "to take omens from the flight of birds." Roman officials only wanted to be sworn into office with the approval of the birds and their watchers.

June 2005. leopard - is a combination of the word for 'lion' and the word for 'white panther,' because at one time the leopard was thought to be a cross between these two animals.

June 2005. learn by rote - From the Latin and meaning "to learn by the wheel." The allusion was to turning something over and over in the mind in the same way that a wheel goes round and round.

June 2005. make the bed - Originally, beds were made anew each night from straw placed on the floor.

June 2005. naked truth - This comes from ancient legend about Truth and Falsehood bathing together. Falsehood got out first and took Truth's clothing instead of her own. When Truth saw this, she preferred to go naked rather than wear Falsehood's clothing.

May 2005. necking - from the neck being an object of affection and perhaps the lowest level of action allowed.

May 2005. nick of time - In medieval times, a 'tally' (stick of wood) was use to take attendance at a college or at church. A 'nick' in the tally indicated attendance. When someone arrived just in time to have his attendance 'nicked,' he arrived "in the nick of time."

May 2005. nest egg - Farmers would leave one egg in the hen's nest to encourage her to have more eggs. This procedure apparently works for at least some of the bird family. So the phrase came to mean 'something set aside for the future.'

May 2005. pedagogue - Latin - from the words for 'child' and 'to lead.' In Rome, this first referred to a slave who took care of the children, and often taught them as well.

May 2005. pleased as punch - This comes from the 'Punch a Judy' show, in which Punch often smacks Judy and then bursts into howls of laughter.

April 2005. pork barrel - in country stores it was once common to keep an open barrel of salt pork. Certain members of the community were allowed to dip into the barrel and help themselves.

April 2005. quibble - Latin - meaning 'who' or 'which.' This term was used so much in legal documents and fought over so much by lawyers in court that it gave us the term "quibble."

April 2005. rack one's brain, to - Rack here means to 'stretch' or 'strain by force' - as a metaphor to being stretched on a 'rack' as torture in olden times.

April 2005. taken with a grain of salt - Adding salt to food brings out the taste and allows one to more clearly judge the taste or worth of the food.

April 2005. seventh heaven - Moslems believe that there are seven layers of heaven. The seventh is the highest heaven and represents the greatest happiness. This is where God himself and the angels are located.

March 2005. shrimp - as applied to a small person, this word comes from and old Anglo-Saxon word meaning 'to shrink.' It was use humorously to imply that a short person must have had to shrink to get to his present size.

March 2005. speakeasy - Iris in origin - originally referred to establishment that sold liquor illegally. The customers had to keep their voices down, (speak quietly or easy) so as not to attract the attention of the police.

March 2005. spittin' image - This was originally, "the very spit and image" - meaning two people were so alike even their spit was similar. The change to "spittin'" came from the general tendency, at one time, for sons to try to 'spit' like their fathers.

March 2005. high brow - it was once believed that bumps and ridges on the head indicated strengths and abilities. Having a high eyebrow line was suppose to indicate great intellectual capacity.

March 2005. greased lightning - Lightning moves very fast, so greased lightning should move even faster.

February 2005. vibrant - Latin - 'energetic,' 'vibrating.' Related word vibrate.

February 2005. visit - Latin - originally - 'God coming to comfort, benefit or punish people for their for sins.' (14th century)

February 2005. vulnerable - Latin - 'that may be wounded,' 'open to attack.'

February 2005. wasp - Old English - 'weave,' - in reference to the web like construction of the insects' nests.

February 2005. wizard - Middle English - 'philosopher' or 'sage' (15th century).

January 2005. stifle - Old English - 'cause to choke,' 'kill by suffocation.' (14th century)

January 2005. stonewall - Old English - wall of stone as presenting an obstacle - resistance.

January 2005. tally - Anglo-Norman - 'rod of wood marked with notches recording payments.' (15th century)

January 2005. tulip - French - thought to resemble a turban.

January 2005. venerable - Latin - 'loved' - from the goddess Venus.

December 2004. Sabbath - Old English - 17th century - 'midnight meeting of demons and witches.'

December 2004. scandal - Greek - 'discredit to religion caused by a religious person' - Middle Ages.

December 2004. spurn - Old English - 'strike with the foot.'

December 2004. squadron - Italian - 'body of soldiers in square formation.' Related to squad.

December 2004. stark naked - Old English - 'tail' - meaning naked even to the tail.

November 2004. prize - Latin - 16th century - 'booty captured at sea.'

November 2004. protestant - Latin - applied to those who joined in the protest at the Diet of Spires in 1529 - hence non-Roman Catholic.

November 2004. purple - Greek - from the name of the shellfish that yielded the Tyrian purple dye.

November 2004. reptile - Latin - 'creeping animal,' (14th century) 'mean person,' (18th century).

November 2004. rib - Old English - 'wife' or 'woman,' (16th century). Biblical reference.

October 2004. moonstruck - German - 'deranged, as if by the influence of the moon.'

October 2004. mutilate - Latin - 'deprive of a limb or principal part of the body,' 'to cut of lop off.'

October 2004. nickel - German - 'mischievous demon' - because the ore yielded no copper in spite of its appearance.

October 2004. outlaw - Old English - 'one put outside the protection of the law' - one banished from the city or town.

October 2004. pot shot - shot taken at game (not necessarily the best game) merely to provide something for the pot - shot aimed at something within reach.

September 2004. mastodon - Greek - the name means 'tooth, breast' - this extinct mammal which had small prominent outgrowths on his molars that were nipple shaped.

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Updated: June 5, 2011