VitaminQ - a temple of trivia lists and curious words
Email VitaminQ

RSS feed

Vitamin Q: the book!

~ Friday, January 09, 2004

Just another recommendation for Forgotten English by Jeffrey Kacirk - if you wish to know the meanings of arcane words like mumpsimus, isabelline* and groaning-cheese, or that ‘Shakespeare’s’ famous line ‘all that glisters is not gold’ is actually a dirty joke about enemas, read this. If you like this site, you’ll love this book.

*The rather beautiful word isabelline, meaning 'a grayish-yellow or parchment colour' appears to derive from a rather less salubrious source. Apparently, in the sixteenth century, it was common for men to grow beards and swear not to shave them until something had been achieved (eg a war won or a leader restored). Archduchess Isabella of Austria wanted to show support for her father Philip II who was laying siege to the city of Ostend. Not being able to grow a beard, she swore not to change her undergarments until the city was taken. However, this took over three years leading to her grey-yellow underwear and the word's probable origin.

Powered By Blogger TM